Google announced that it is launching three new location APIs for developers today. These involve Geofencing, Activity Recognition, and Fused Location. The aim is to minimize battery use while maximizing location and relevant data to the application that’s requesting it. The APIs will be available today for any developers who want to incorporate them into their products.
Geofencing allows you to define areas of the world where you want to trigger events. Want your application to only run when you’re away from home or work? The Geofencing API allows your application to trigger on those events without having to run constantly, polling the location.
The Activity Recognition API is one you may have already noticed in Google Now. This is the one that allows you to receive a summary of how many miles Google thought you walked each month. Activity recognition uses the accelerometer in your device to figure out if you’re walking, biking, driving, or maybe a passenger in a horse-driven carriage.
Activity recognition can be used to trigger applications to kick in when you’re walking and start counting your calories. It also can be used to determine that you’re not moving all that far from your last position, so you don’t need to use all the computing power available to the phone every minute to figure out where you’re actually at if it only detects you’ve moved a few feet.
Fused location uses all sources available to the device to locate where you’re at. WiFi is scanned to determine if you’re near a router Google recognizes, carrier towers are polled to figure out your general area, barometer (if you have one) is polled to see what your altitude is, and then GPS is checked to get a precise location.
These new Google APIs aim to use less than 1% of battery per hour to locate where you’re at (how large the battery they’re talking about is was not mentioned). The APIs are also designed to nearly instantly locate where you’re at, as opposed to having to wait around for location services to find you so you can check in.
Currently polling location data can pull nearly 30% of the battery per hour using Navigation with screen off on some devices, so this should be a rather good improvement.
The APIs should be available to developers today.