How did I skip across the entire US in an hour?
November 16, 2014 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I rarely check Google Location but it's always fascinating when I do. I just did a bit of travelling around Florida and am perplexed by the readings. Suddenly I appear to leap from the Florida Keys to California and back again in the space of a couple of hours. Obviously I didn't do this. My phone wasn't on the whole time - it died around when I got 'back' to the Everglades. I've put up a screengrab of this time-bending excursion - any insights as to how this happened are most welcome.
posted by srednivashtar to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it's just still in the early, glitchy stages of development. My history has weird jumps like that too.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2014

At some point your phone picked you up at an IP address or WiFi triangulation that it thought was in California. Could be any number of factors that caused Google to guess wrong.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

In urban areas, if 9/10 detected wifi networks are known to be in South Orlando, it probably drops the tenth one that it thinks is in East L.A. If you're driving around swampland, though, you may not be passing enough wifi nodes to help Google discard the outliers. It may be forced to rely on a single result. Obviously they could use an absurdity filter.
posted by mumkin at 4:40 PM on November 16, 2014

Phones don't primarily geolocate via GPS; they mostly rely on positions of cell phone towers and especially WiFi points. So maybe you were near a radio that's wrong in the database? A VPN can also confuse things; sometimes services use your endpoint IP address as a way to locate you. If you connected to a VPN server in California it might do that.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2014

Yes, most likely it was using Wi-Fi to approximate your location and there is an AP that is wrong in the database. The cell id databases tend not to be off by that much, at least with GSM carriers because they have a network number, a location area code that defines the region in which the site is located and the cell id itself, so any QC at all will catch a site in a given LAC being on the wrong side of the country.
posted by wierdo at 9:17 PM on November 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all, I realised it was a glitch in the system but it's interesting to see how and why these things occur.
posted by srednivashtar at 4:13 AM on November 17, 2014

« Older The selfish elf   |   Bouncy Mattress Good for Making the Whoopee? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.