Internet search leader Google said Wednesday it is introducing a new mapping system that uses cell phone towers to let mobile phone users locate nearby services without typing in addresses.
Google’s new My Location service is being offered in test mode to U.S. users and is designed to expand the percentage of mobile phone users of location-aware services, whether or not their phones come equipped with satellite-locating chips.
Google Maps for Mobile with My Location automatically informs mobile phone users where they are on a map. Users simply type the number “0” on their phone to move the map to their approximate location.
Google is offering the service for free, direct to U.S. consumers, and is expected to eventually introduce local advertising that takes advantage of the location-aware service. The company has created the service independent of carriers.
The service uses various algorithms to approximate a user’s handset location relative to the cell towers nearest them. The service relies on a database of cell towers Google has constructed by using anonymous readings of mobile signals from previous Google Maps users to help locate My Location users.