A recent trip to a family reunion in the Midwest brought home the value of GPS in our iPhones.
We’re a mostly iPhone family so traveling by caravan and texting along the highway while following the GPS blue dot was an adventure. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the same kind of tracking capability built in to our Macs? Sadly, Apple does put GPS technology in the Mac, but geotracking via WiFi simulates the action.
Blue Dot vs. Red Dot
Our iPhones have the pulsing blue dot to show a current position via GPS. Sometimes the position is spot on, sometimes not. Without a GPS receiver in your Mac you’ll have to use a different technology.
Enter Mac WPS. It’s WiFi Geotracking for Mac users, and it’s not bad.
Turn by turn navigation requires extreme accuracy. General locations via WiFi or other technologies will only get the geolocation to a nearby point. That’s what Mac WPS does. It gets close.
Beyond GPS there are multiple ways to get a decent location from your Mac, and some of the technology is already built in to your Mac. An estimate can be made using your IP address, but that’s a weak link.
Another method uses your Mac’s built in Airport. WiFi. Without even connecting your Mac can detect the presence of other WiFi stations, grab a MAC address, query a central server, and return a relatively accurate location—often less than 300 feet.
Mac WPS is a breeze to set up. Download, unzip, drag and drop into your Applications folder, double click to track. In my very first try, Mac WPS found my location within about 100 feet (plenty of nearby WiFi users helps).
Not bad, huh?
Mac WPS runs a continuous update on your Mac. Instead of a pulsing Blue Dot, you get a red Target Store dot with a red translucent area around it and over a zoomable map. Double click to zoom in.
Scroll the map by clicking and dragging. It’s simple.
If you have a hardware GPS connected to your Mac the built in core location library may recognize it, and Mac WPS can then provide a more accurate position based upon true GPS data.
Mac WPS is not GPS because that’s not built in to your Mac. In most circumstances with nearby WiFi stations, Mac WPS is remarkably close and does a decent job of emulating the GPS and Google Map combo of an iPhone.