Why embedded URLs should not be used for geotagging



Many previous attempts at SMS geotagging have simply incorporated a Google Maps URL into the message body. While this maximizes the chances that an existing handset can display the location, it has many drawbacks that make it unsuitable as a future geotagging standard.

  • It relies on the receiving device having internet access. That is not a valid assumption. Some might argue that devices without internet access can’t display locations, but that’s not true. Many devices contain pre-installed maps, and others might choose to display the location with, say, a compass needle and distance counter.
  • URLs are verbose. An SMS is limited to 160 characters, so every letter counts. The overhead for a Google Maps URL is http://maps.google.com/maps?q= or 30 characters, versus four characters for geo:. In theory you could set up a shorter URL, but you’d never get down to four characters.
  • URLs change. We think of Google Maps…

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