Mozilla Labs Introduces Geode
Mozilla Labs recently offered a sneak peak and download of Geode. Geode is one of the first applications to use the new W3C geolocation specification API. It is currently available as a plug-in for Firefox 3 (and seems to only support Windows and Mac systems at this time). Mozilla Labs indicates it will likely be a new feature integrated in an upcoming browser release.
Geode uses web-based tracking, which tends to be faster than the traditional GPS geolocation methods. This would enable Firefox to sense the user's location and give information, for example, on local businesses, or quick access to local news.
Reactions on the Mozilla Lab post aren't all positive. Issues are raised concerning Skyhook's licensing (the terms of which aren't readily available on their developer site), the obvious privacy implications, and the necessity of making this a built-in feature in future browser releases.
Though all are valid concerns and will hopefully be addressed shortly, the last concern is a particularly good one. There are some browsers that lend themselves to this feature. It would not make sense for Mozilla to leave it out of the upcoming mobile Fennec release, for instance. And while many people have laptops as primary (or secondary) computers and occasionally travel, many more have desktops.
As an integrated feature, would the end-user be allowed to disable this ability easily? Consider having a laptop and traveling to a familiar (yet distant) area. Is this feature always necessary? What costs would be associated with integrating it into the browser in terms of browser response/system resources?
In the right environment, Geode is a technology that holds promise, but Mozilla still has much planning to do.