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Skyhook's in-flight location API lets apps find you in mid-air

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Skyhook's latest API allows app developers to get a user's location even while flying.

Skyhook in-flight location
Skyhook in-flight location

Location services provider Skyhook — best known for popularizing the concept of Wi-Fi location on phones and for a public spat with Google — has introduced version 4.6 of its mobile SDK this morning. Among the new features, one in particular stands out: "in-flight location," which quite literally allows app developers to get a user's current location even when they're in the air. Though Skyhook's press release doesn't go into details on how the technology works, it's very likely that the company is tracking the aircraft's Wi-Fi network (made possible by the popularity of services like Gogo) and mapping it to the plane's rough current location on its flight path, data which is freely available and already used by popular mobile apps like FlightTrack.

Though neither iOS nor Google-sanctioned Android devices use Skyhook intrinsically, the company's SDK allows third-party Android developers to plug in for additional location accuracy and speed beyond what's available from the operating system itself — and in-flight location might have enough of a "gee-whiz" factor to get a few more devs to sign up. The system looks accurate enough to be useful, too; check out this video of plot points from an actual flight that Skyhook has posted.