Google Maps on Mozilla's Firefox or Google's own web browser Chrome have been issued increased functionality that can read where a computer is physically via a small white circle in the map view window. The little button is betwe

en the navigation circle and the zoom line in the upper left corner, and when clicked accesses the user's location. As CNET reports today, the browser feature was extended from its first appearance in Firefox to Chrome (the developer version only) in the following issue tracker post on Thursday: "The Geolocation feature is now available in chrome 5.0.375.25 (Official Build 45690)." Support has not yet been extended to consumer-level stable or beta versions of Chrome.

After asking for permission, the component can map or include location on certain services that can take advantage of location-based information. The location button turns blue, and an indicator appears with an accurate location reading, at least in this writer's case. The info is gathered through various ways: Google uses wireless access points or a computer Internet Protocol address.

Firefox's Geolocation works much the same way, sending the data to Google Location Services, then sharing it with the requesting Web site. Firefox can remember which Web sites are allowed location information, and the default setting is to keep sharing off. Additionally, Firefox encrypts the location information to protect privacy. The name or location of the Web site, as well as cookies, are not shared with Google Location Services.

While CNET does not give further examples of sites or services taking advantage of this added functionality of select browsers, the feature runs parallel with the growing trend of location-enabled support for Web and mobile devices. After the geolocation explosion at SXSW this year, we can look forward to seeing advanced application of Foursquare- and GoWalla-inspired concepts paying ever closer attention to where we are.