How Apple iPhone, iPod touch uses Skyhook’s technology to find your location

“Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, revealed in his keynote speech last week a new location-awareness feature available on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It allows the sleek devices to home in on their current location using Wi-Fi technology,” Carolyn Y. Johnson reports for The Boston Globe.

“There’s no GPS inside the phone, so ‘how do we actually arrive at the location?’ Jobs asked… ‘We’re working with two companies to do that: Google, and a company called Skyhook Wireless,’ he said.”

“Skyhook’s technology uses signals from Wi-Fi hot spots to triangulate and find a person’s location, instead of using a chip that lets a mobile device communicate with the Global Positioning System,” Johnson reports.

“Today Skyhook’s technology works in about 8,000 U.S. cities and towns, and the company is expanding its database by mapping Wi-Fi signals in Europe and Asia,” ,” Johnson reports.

“The software upgrade that includes the new location feature – it is available free on an iPhone and for $19.99 on an iPod Touch – allows people to simply press a button to see where they are,” Johnson reports. “A map displays a bull’s-eye that’s centered on the user’s location; Morgan said Skyhook’s technology typically is accurate up to about 165 feet, or 50 meters.”

More in the full article here.


  1. I’m loving this feature on my iPod!

    Who would have thought, when the first iPod was released, that it would evolve into a true wireless device that can tell you your location.

    An amazing device, and I’m sooo pleased I bought one.

  2. Uh, no offense but the snippets above don’t answer the question, “How does the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch use Skyhook’s technology to find your location.”

    Seems like you should re-recap the article or change the headline.

  3. This is awesome and a welcomed addition to my iPhone and iPod Touch. I’m just worried about Skyhook becoming self aware and may start sending out those Terminators. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  4. @Old Mac Man

    True.. not nearly as accurate as a real GPS, but it also does not have a lot of the downsides:

    1) Does not use a lot of battery power
    2) Works inside buildings, and among tall buildings (actually works better in a large city..)
    3) No need to “find satilites” so it works quickly from a cold start.

  5. Actually I want a hybrid device like that. One that an use wifi and cell towers for location, but one that can also use a GPS when reliable wifi, or cell phone signals don’t cut it.

    Where is the bluetooth gps receiver for the iPhone anyways?

  6. Read the article again. You will see that it describes how is uses WiFi Hotspot triangulation to locate your position. They are adding more and more spots to their database everyday. Maybe you should check your facts before posting anything.

  7. It’s not a GPS replacement, it’s convenient to get you near your actual location, then you drop a pin where you really are, and then do a search for directions.

    While it doesn’t have a voice or live update, it does give traffic conditions on major highways, which you have to pay a subscription fee to get from GPS. It’s invaluable to me to get thru NYC.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.