The Apple iPod Touch just got even better!

New Apple Update

Anyone with an Apple Ipod Touch who hasn’t yet downloaded the new firmware release (1.1.3) is missing out big time! 

The new update to the software sees a handful of new features including an email client, weather updates, Notes and Google Maps with the fantastic location finding.

The latter is simply brilliant…  working without either GPS or GSM, relying purely on Wi-Fi Triangulation to pinpoint your current position on the map.  The iPhone is even better (so I’m told), using a combination of GSM (mobile phone masts) and Wi-Fi detection to give a more accurate result.

Wi-Fi Triangulation

Ipod - Google Maps So how does it know where you are….  Google has partnered with Skyhook Wireless who provide a database of all known wireless access points, created by capturing the signals (apparently by driving round our streets in a souped-up geek van) from private and public wireless hotspots. 

When your iPod Touch requests it’s location via Google Maps, Skyhook’s WPS (Wi-Fi Positioning System) uses the device’s built in Wi-Fi to scan for nearby access points.  When detected, it confirms the strength of connection, and compares all of this to it’s database, using clever algorithms to calculate your position.  All very Mission Impossible, and some people have expressed concerns over privacy and security (both from a ipod/iphone user, and access point owner point of view) .

Right now I’m typing this from our office on Ainslie Road, Hillington.  I only know this for sure because my iPod confirms this!!  Selfishly, I’m delighted that Glasgow seems to have some great coverage in the SkyHook database, second only to London, and while I expect it’ll be some time before the UK coverage even comes close to the Mobile Phone network, I’m convinced that over time this will become the “standard” locational mapping method.

A case for Google Advertising

There’s no doubt that the location detection ability of the iPod and iPhone is impressive, and a really cool thing to show off to your mates.  But as the uptake of these devices increases, along with an increase in the accuracy of detection and a wider coverage, the business potential for companies with a shop, office, or any “physical premises” suddenly becomes clear. 

Type “NSDesign” into Google maps, and you’ll be shown our office.  Now click on the “directions to here” option, and you’ll get a detailed route direct to our door, starting at your exact current location.  Pretty powerfull stuff and all do-able now.  Certainly a reason for making sure your business is listed within Google Maps.

Related Links:
Add a custom Google Map to your website
Extract from the book “Web Development Solutions” – Chapter: Adding Google Maps to your Website

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4 Responses to “The Apple iPod Touch just got even better!”

  1. Scott

    I love the idea of the souped-up geek van. I currently have amazing images in my mind of what that’s like. There’s antenna and satellite dishes and lots of folding doors and strange scary jaggy things.

    There may even be some kind of terminal in the geek van which would allow me to register on the move 😉

    Of course now I’ve just realised I could register it using my iPhone pretty much anywhere. It’s a bit like the geek van in a phone. With a camera. And Edge. 😉

  2. Gary

    Update – We’ve just heard back from Skyhook regarding WPS coverage… The good news is that if Skyhook haven’t yet added any wi-fi points in your area to their database, you can do it yourself!!

    Instructions (from the very helpful Ryan Sarver) below:

    We are happy to help you add or update your personal Access Point to the system. In order to do so you will need to provide us with the MAC Address of the wireless access point and your location (as latitude/longitude)

    1. Find your location as latitude, longitude
    First we need to determine the location of the AP. Go to Google Maps ( and find the location of your access point on the map. Center the map (double-click on it) on the location and then enter the following into your Address Bar:


    This will open a prompt giving you the latitude,longitude of the center of the map. Copy and paste that into an email. If you are having problems there is a little more detailed tutorial here:

    2. Find the MAC Address of your wireless access point
    Next we need to get the MAC Address of your AP. This can be tricky, so its best to use software to find it. We recommend NetStumbler and iStumbler on
    Windows and Mac respectively. You can download the programs at the following links:


    Find your AP in the list and the associated MAC address for it. Now paste the MAC address in the email.

    Now you should have a MAC address, latitude and longitude. Its good to recheck the location by pasting the latitude, longitude back into Google
    Maps to make sure its the right location. Once you verify it, send us the information and we¹ll add them to the database. It may take up to a week
    before the AP is available when using your iPhone or iPod touch. If it after a few weeks you are still having problems, let us know.

    Send your Mac Code and latitude/longitude to Skyhook –

    So there you go – WPS capability within your own office or home, while at the same time, expanding the UK coverage for this brilliant technology.