OSM GPS dump

We’re very excited to announce an agreement with Nokia HERE to provide A-GPS support on Ubuntu. The new platform service will enable developers to obtain accurate positioning data for their location-based apps in under two minutes, a significantly shorter Time To First Fix (TTFF) than the average for raw GPS technologies.

Faster positioning

While Ubuntu already features GPS-based location, it has always been a key requirement for the OS to provide application developers with rapid and efficient location positioning capabilities.

The new positioning service will be a hybrid solution integrating A-GPS and WiFi positioning, a powerful combo to help obtaining a very fast and accurate TTFF. The system is to be functional by the Release To Manufacturer (RTM) milestone, and available on the regular Ubuntu builds and for retail phones shipping Ubuntu.

Privacy and security

With the user’s explicit consent, anonymous data related to signal strength of local WiFi signals and radio cells can be contributed to crowd-sourcing location services, with the purpose of improving the overall quality of the positioning service for all users.

In line with Ubuntu’s privacy policy, no personal data of any nature is to be collected and released. Users will also be able to opt-out of this service if they do not wish their mobile handset to collect this type of data.

The positioning system will also be run under strict confinement, so that the service and its data cannot be accessed without the user explicitly granting access. With Ubuntu’s trust model, a confined application has to be granted trust by the user to gain access to security- or privacy-relevant system components.

Mapping capabilities

As the new service is to be focused on positioning, it will be decoupled from any mapping solution. Ubuntu Developers, as before, will have a choice of mapping services to use for their applications, including Nokia HERE, OpenStreetMap and others.

Header image based on “openstreetmap gps coverage” by Steven Kay, CC-BY-SA 2.0.