As I’ve been running around Whitehorse doing errands today I’ve been constantly checking my iPhone’s location awareness. It’s been a mixed bag.
Sometimes it thinks I’m somewhere in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. But when I’m at home it can locate my properly to within a few feet, as in this screen shot (I really love how the compass functionality even shows what direction I’m facing):
The iPhone uses a service provided by Skyhook Wireless to provide location services. Skyhook evaluates a device’s location by cross-referencing a proprietary database of Wifi base station locations, cell tower information, and GPS data.
It’s unlikely that there’s any Wifi base station data for Whitehorse in Skyhook’s database. And, judging by the fact that my iPhone, when it’s set to automatically set my time, still indicates that I’m in the Mountain Time zone, I don’t think Bell’s cell towers have been properly configured for Whitehorse yet.
So my guess is that Bell has done something in the last few days to kick-start GPS services to devices in Whitehorse. So, for now, location services on iPhones in Whitehorse are totally dependent on GPS, it would seem. My mixed-bag of results then, is probably based on my device’s access to a good view of the southern sky, which I often didn’t have whilst downtown today.