Yahoo Launches Fire Eagle

Today at the O'Reilly ETech Conference in San Diego, Yahoo's Tom Coates demonstrated their latest API, and perhaps their most unique API: Fire Eagle. It's a Platform for sharing your location online. It gives applications the ability to update, query and track your location, with user-driven privacy controls allow setting of location availability and granularity. We have created a new Fire Eagle API profile here. Yahoo's site describes it as:

The secure and stylish way to share your location with sites and services online while giving you unprecedented control over your data and privacy. We're here to make the whole web respond to your location and help you to discover more about the world around you.

This Yahoo diagram does a nice job of illustrating how applications can interact with the platform:

fire eagle

Here are some of the key details:

  • It's currently an invite only beta release (10,000 invitations sent today).
  • Since privacy issues are naturally a top concern in any system capable of sharing your current location, the Fire Eagle platform has this built-in a very deep level. You can choose how specific a location to make available as well as how long to make this available (Fire Eagle can send you reminders).
  • It's unique in that it's a pure platform play -- there is currently no consumer-facing Yahoo app on top it.
  • The REST-based API is one of the first from a major vendor to support OAuth as the Authentication mechanism. One implication of this is that the application does not need to know the Yahoo ID of the user.
  • The query API lets you retrive data in GeoJSON and GeoRSS formatted data.
  • There are user-selectable levels of accuracy that range from neighborhood to country.
  • The Dopplr service will be one of the first to use it.
  • Initial sample apps from Yahoo will include a Fire Eagle widget badge for MySpace, an app for connecting with friends on Facebook, and an SMS updater for texting your location.
  • The API includes user-specific methods like /update and /lookup, as well as general purpose methods like /recent.
  • It keeps only the most recent piece of location information it received.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: MapQuest Offers Unlimited Free API Calls