Mozilla confirms geolocation for Firefox 3.5 and Fennec

Chicago (IL) – Mozilla’s Doug Turner has officially announced geolocation as a newly integrated feature in the upcoming Firefox 3.5 and its mobile variant, currently code-named Fennec. The new opt-in feature allows users to share their location with websites through both browsers.  

Location-aware applications are coming whether you want that or not and we see Mozilla embracing this trend with the new Firefox 3.5, which is expected to debut in its final version sometime in June. If Mozilla has its way, web developers will integrate code snippets into their sites, which will ask users to share their current geographical location and the browser will return that information based on information retrieved through GPS, WiFi or cell tower triangulation, or manual address entry.

The new feature is sure to raise privacy concerns, but Mozilla says the feature is deactivated by default and if a user does not want to share location information, the browser will simply return an error message to a website requesting that information. “Geolocation can make web sites smarter and you more productive,” Turner wrote in his blog. “Websites that use geolocation will ask where you are in order to bring you more relevant information, or to save you time while searching. Let’s say you’re looking for a pizza restaurant in your area. A website will be able to ask you to share your location so that simply searching for “pizza” will bring you the answers you need…no further information or extra typing required.”

Firefox received the geolocation feature through an experimental labs add-on called Geode last year and Mozilla says it has been looking for ways to integrate such a capability in Firefox for several years. The organization felt for a long time that it should be up to a third-party add-on to offer geolocation features, but Firefox was always “left with a chicken-or-egg problem: unless lots and lots of users installed an add-on, websites wouldn’t have a significant audience for which to develop location-enabled services; and without lots of useful web content using the feature, users had no reason to install an add-on.” 

As a result, Mozilla decided to integrate the technology by default, while making sure that user privacy will be protected, and both Firefox and Fennec, which will receive the same code base as Firefox 3.5, will support the technology. Mozilla’s geolocation technology is based on the W3C’s Geolocation API specification.