Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) said today its finally taking Fire Eagle out of beta and opening it up to the public. The service helps manage location information for websites, or for that matter, any device that has internet access. I’ve always wondered why location-based information has been limited to cell phones and mobile devices. I often travel with my laptop and occasionally can remote login from different computers — wouldn’t it be great if websites knew you were traveling, or even working from a coffee shop in your hometown? That’s sort of where Fire Eagle steps in. It doesn’t find a user’s location, but gathers that information from several sources, and makes it very accessible to the developer. Release. VentureBeat writes that Yahoo doesn’t intend this service to be limited to all the social networks out there, but for it to be much more expansive. For instance, location could be used to find all the emails you sent while on vacation, it said. You can imagine this may become even more critical as people have Internet tablets, or use ultra-mobile PCs.
How it works: Users get to authorize a website, a mobile service or a desktop application as to when they can use their location. It can be automatic or manual, and because privacy is a big concern, people can hide themselves, change their sharing preferences or delete any of their stored information at any time. Developers can plug in Fire Eagle to easily add a location-based element.
Some of the beta users: Brightkite, which has a location-based social network; Dash, which is a GPS system that incorporates traffic monitoring; Dipity, which allows people to share stories on certain topics; Dopplr, which travelers use to share their plans; Movable Type, the blogging software, Loki, which adds your location to your social network, such as Twitter or Facebook; and others.