Research In Motion (RIM) announced on Monday that it has updated its Locate Service with a Geolocation feature which allows for non-GPS based location queries.
The addition of Geolocation will allow developers to build apps that rely on knowing a BlackBerry users location in areas of little or no GPS coverage.
Instead of relying on satellite coverage for geographical information, the Geolocation service pinpoints a handset's whereabouts by triangulating the signal between mobile phone masts, providing a far quicker lock on a user's location than by using GPS alone, the company says.
While the company notes that using this method will not be as accurate as GPS location, it still has its place in apps that require high accuracy.
"Apps that require high accuracy can use this service to quickly show the user an approximate location while it waits for a more accurate location fix using GPS. This can offer a huge user experience improvement," RIM said in a statement on the BlackBerry developer blog.
RIM is providing the update to developers free of charge, though it does note that they will need to be using Blackberry Application Platform v5.0 (or higher) and that an end-user will need to be signed up to a network that supports these features in order for the new service to work.
As part of the update RIM also added reverse geocoding to the BlackBerry Device Software, which allows latitude and longitude data to be converted into a meaningful address.
The introduction of mobile mast triangulation as an addition to GPS, is nothing new for mobile phone manufacturers and RIM has now joined the likes of Symbian, Apple, Android, and Windows Mobile in offering this feature.