Wednesday, October 01, 2008

iPod Touch location services

For some reason I have big problems with iPod programs that need to localise my iPod. My iPod (1st generation Touch) should be using the "location services" for its networks, but each time I try to access a program that depends on localisation, I get a "Allow me to use your existing location" followed by a long wait and inevitably failure.

I turned into Ze Googlemeister for a few minutes, and actually found something interesting:

Ipots (the smart and geeky slang for Ipod Touch'es) don't have GPS or any of that fancy, battery-bashing 3G stuff. So they rely on WiFi triangulation which is not very accurate but better than nothing.

Turns out that a privat company, Skyhook, is responsible for the WiFi, GPS and 3G localisation coverage for these Apple products. Or at least, this is how I interpret it. The corporate affiliations aren't exactly crystal...that's Apple, alright :P

Now, it appears that Skyhook is mapping WiFi coverage slowly but consistently. You can pay $20 and get some VIP-status that gets you there quicker, but online there is a WiFi access point submittal service where regular (free) users can add access points to Skyhook's database, which then within some weeks gets updated and allows your iPod to query the location services and hopefully get an accurate answer on where the hell it is.

I found several IP-addresses on my router and through good ol'e "ipconfig /all". The only one that the Skyhook service wanted to acknowledge was the "default gateway" that my router configuration is displaying.
When I added that address, the map reset itself to a particular street corner in Taipei. I am still uncertain whether a taiwanese chap has the same WiFi IP-setup - but somehow I take this to be a factory setting. It seems likely that my internal router or WiFi router is made in Taiwan. Even if I have no clue how that information is stored or transferred through IP exchange...

After this, I was asked to add the MAC-address of the WiFi router and my e-mail address. Confirmation came per e-mail - and now I'm waiting to see if this will help anything at all. I am not exactly located in the city center so I have some serious doubts.

I am still wondering how on earth regular non-technical users would have any chance of finding and implementing this information. How many people out there just sit around, accepting that key parts of their products do not really function properly?

[Edited on Oct 13th:]
To my big surprise, my localisation service now works here at home. My actions actually helped! Hooray!
I hereby recommend that everyone living up Shit Creek do the same.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, I wasn't getting any location results on my iPod Touch 2G, in Australia.
Hopefully your info will help.


Rasmus said...

Very glad to help....and nice that strangers actually stumble into what I write now and then :)

Anonymous said...

yeah i found the same thing and entered my info a while ago and still havent received results...maybe ill wait a bit longer but it really is annoying to have to enter my zip code every time i use and app. what happens when i travel and dont know where the poo i am?

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