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Geolocation API V2 Survey Results

Vodafone R&D is engaged in several W3C working groups, amongst them Geolocation, with the aim of advancing web technologies and make the web a first-class development platform.

On January 25th, we put out a developer Survey in order to gather your feedback as a developer and user to make the Geolocation API better for you. We basically wanted to gather requirements we could bring in to version 2 of the API. The survey was open for over a month and 47 developers took part. Out of these, 41 of them also expressed their opinion from a user's point of view.

One thing we observed from the results is that developers do not always need to know the exact location of the user in order to provide the feature or service which uses location information,

In many cases, knowing the country, city or street would be sufficient. In version 1 of the Geolocation API, which is the one currently implemented in most desktops and mobile browsers, there is only the option to obtain the exact user location through GPS coordinates. Version 2 of the Geolocation API in its current draft allows the developer to request an Address object along with or instead of coordinates, but does not yet allow for the developer to specify the level of granularity (country, city, street, exact address) required. Developers seem to agree that this would be a useful feature of the API and that it would make users agree more often to share their location,

From a user's point of view, the overwhelming majority of the respondents stated that they do not always share their location with a website,

Most of the times the reason for this was that they actually didn't know why the location was being requested and how it would be used. Other reasons included that users didn't want to disclose their exact location. This confirms that indeed, it would be beneficial if the API allowed to request a specific level of granularity for the Address object. 

We can also observe that users are much more likely to share their exact location with a web application that they regularly access, whereas they would be prefer to disclose only a coarser level for a website they access for the first time,

The rest of the questions included in the survey are presented below for reference,

The above has been shared at the beginning of March with the members of the Geolocation Working Group present at the last face-to-face meeting in London and seems to have been valuable feedback for our work.

Any further comments on the Geolocation API can be sent directly to their public mailing list: public-geolocation@w3.org .


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