Cover by Alasdair Allan

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The Core Location Framework

The Core Location framework is an abstraction layer in front of several different methods to find the user’s location (and, by extrapolation, her speed and course). It can provide the latitude, longitude, and altitude of the device (along with the level of accuracy to which this is known). There are three levels of accuracy:

  • The least accurate level uses the cell network to locate the user (the process is similar to triangulation, but more complex). This can quickly provide a position to around 12 km accuracy, which can be reduced to 1–3 km after some time depending on the tower density at your current location.

  • The next accuracy level is obtained by utilizing Skyhook Wireless’s WiFi-based positioning system. This is much more precise, giving a position to approximately 100 m. However, it depends on the user being in range of a known wireless hotspot.

  • The highest level of accuracy is obtained by using GPS hardware, which should provide a position to less than 40 m.

Warning

On the iPod touch, the user’s location is derived solely from WiFi positioning. The original iPhone will use WiFi and cell tower triangulation, and on the iPhone 3G and 3GS it will also make use of the built-in GPS hardware.

The actual method used to determine the user’s location is abstracted away from both the user and the developer. The only control the developer has over the chosen method is by requesting a certain level of accuracy, although the actual accuracy achieved is not guaranteed. ...

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