Geolocation refers to the identification of the geographic location of a user or computing device via a variety of data collection mechanisms. Typically, most geolocation services use network routing addresses or internal GPS devices to determine this location. Note that geolocation is a device-specific API; some browser/devices support it, while others do not (or cannot), so you cannot assume that geolocation is always possible for a web application.

Detecting the User's Location

Newer browsers are starting to support the W3C Geolocation standard. This standard is part of HTML5 and will likely become the de-facto standard going forward. All applications that wish to perform geolocation should support this standard.

Some browsers use IP addresses to detect a user's location. However, as a user's IP address can only provide a rough estimate of a user's location, we don't recommend using this approach for geolocation. The W3C approach is the easiest and most fully-supported so it should be prioritized over other methods.

The following example attempts to determine the user's location through the W3C navigator.geolocation property.

var initialLocation;
var siberia = new google.maps.LatLng(60, 105);
var newyork = new google.maps.LatLng(40.69847032728747, -73.9514422416687);
var browserSupportFlag =  new Boolean();

function initialize() {
  var myOptions = {
    zoom: 6,
    mapTypeId: google.maps.MapTypeId.ROADMAP
  var map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById("map-canvas"), myOptions);

  // Try W3C Geolocation (Preferred)
  if(navigator.geolocation) {
    browserSupportFlag = true;
    navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(function(position) {
      initialLocation = new google.maps.LatLng(position.coords.latitude,position.coords.longitude);
    }, function() {
  // Browser doesn't support Geolocation
  else {
    browserSupportFlag = false;

  function handleNoGeolocation(errorFlag) {
    if (errorFlag == true) {
      alert("Geolocation service failed.");
      initialLocation = newyork;
    } else {
      alert("Your browser doesn't support geolocation. We've placed you in Siberia.");
      initialLocation = siberia;

View example (map-geolocation)

The Sensor Parameter

The Google Maps API previously required that you include the sensor parameter to indicate whether your application used a sensor to determine the user's location. This parameter is no longer required.

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Google Maps APIs