Feeds

Skyhook routes around Google to MapQuest

Location pioneer finds Android way

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Skyhook – the location services outfit that was booted from both Google's Android mobile OS and Apple's iOS – continues to work its way back onto phones through third-party applications.

On Tuesday, the Boston-based company announced that MapQuest's free Android application has embedded the core Skyhook location service engine, which uses Wi-Fi signals as well as GPS to pinpoint a device's location. This allows the application to provide turn-by-turn navigation and other services even when reliable GPS data is not available.

A pioneer in the location services business, Skyhook has built a massive location database of Wi-Fi networks and cell towers across the US and other parts of the world. To determine your location, the company's mobile service compares this database to the Wi-Fi networks it identifies in the vicinity of your phone.

Skyhook shipped with the original iPhone, and it was due to be included with Android as well, but both Google and Apple chose to replace the service with their own location systems. In recent days, the tech giants have endured a firestorm of criticism over the way these new systems operate.

Both Apple and Google are using phones to build a database similar to Skyhook, and like Skyhook, both download a portion of their database to the phone itself in attempting to determine the user's location. In each case, this downloaded data is easily readable on the phone itself, and at least in Apple's case, this data has been used by law enforcement to determine where people have been.

Google also complicates matters by grabbing a unique ID for each Android phone as it collects Wi-Fi and cell tower data. This would allow Google to reconstruct where the user has been, and the data could potentially be acquired through a subpoena or national security letter.

Skyhook does not capture a phone ID, and it encrypts the location data it downloads to phones.

Last year, Skyhook sued Google, claiming that Mountain View strong-armed its Android partners into dropping Skyhook in favor of Google location services. According to the suit, Andy Rubin – who oversees Google's Android project – told Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha that if the handset manufacturer didn't drop Skyhook, Google would remove official Android support from the devices. This would mean that Motorola could not use the Android Market and other proprietary Google services or use the Android name.

So, without a place in the OS itself, Skyhook is working its way onto Android phones through third-party applications. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.