Location awareness and geo-spatial technologies are becoming more prevalent in today’s technology. Most notably in the realm of mobile devices. Yahoo’s new Fire Eagle “open” platform aims to let users take their location to the Web while giving them the ability to easily control how and where that location data is shared.
According to a Yahoo press release, Fire Eagle gives users a place to store and manage information about their location, as well as offers developers clear protocols for updating or accessing that information. Because it’s an open platform, any networked service can use Fire Eagle to respond to a user’s location – whether it be to help them find their friends, annotate the world or find nearby services or local information.
With mobile social networking on the rise, a central source for location data both for consumers and developers alike will be a welcomed improvement to the bits and pieces that are available today. Any developer or start-up wanting to incorporate location-awareness into their applications find it difficult, time consuming, and costly to develop their own strategies. Fire Eagle can provide that crucial functionality, while letting developers focus on more important aspects of their applications.
On the other hand, the availability of a user’s location does raise some privacy concerns. Fire Eagle aims to address this fear by letting user’s easily control distribution settings in a Web-based, or mobile-based dashboard. “Fire Eagle is about making everything on the Internet more useful, fun or interesting by adding the element of location,” said Tom Coates, head of product at Yahoo Brickhouse. “We’re here to help people take their location to the Web by giving them the ability to control how much detail about their location they want to share and which applications they want to share it with.”
Fire Eagle was built at Yahoo’s “Brickhouse,” a place for internal “start-up-like” projects where small teams develop and converge on new ideas to create products around them. Fire Eagle, which has been in private beta since March, has been integrated into over fifty live applications, including Dopplr, Pownce, Movable Type, and Outside.in, through the platform’s well-received API. With so much interest and development while in beta, it should be exciting to see what happens when it’s available to the rest of us.