Microsoft has set out a pretty lofty goal for whomever applies to their latest job listing — they want some deeply technical people who, among other things, will help “find the location of every Windows Phone device in the world.”
Useful location-based services like “Find My Phone” and Bing Maps have been baked into Windows Phone 7 since day one, but Microsoft seems to have something slightly different in mind for their location team. The listing specifically seeks people to work on their forthcoming core location service, details of which are largely unknown.
The job listing, spotted by Neowin, does however make mention of what the core location service will be expected to do. Among the priorities for the core location team will be working on more accurate ways to determine a device’s location even without assistance from the built-in GPS. Next up on the list is solving the problem of determining a device’s position while indoors — a truly dicey one because the device usually can’t rely on GPS, and wireless network coverage can take a hit within walls.
It seems as though much of Microsoft’s focus here is building a strong team to boost the overall accuracy of their location services, and while no specific applications are mentioned, it’s easy to see how such improvements could enhance Windows Phone’s user experience. Find My Phone and Bing Maps performance could improve tremendously, and if offered to developers, core location services could make location-based apps even more accurate and more worth using.
Pragmatic causes aside, this isn’t great timing on Microsoft’s part. Their recent legal kerfuffle over storing and transmitting user location data without consent is still fresh in people’s minds, and perhaps because of that, Microsoft has already pulled the listing. The full text is reproduced below, but hopefully Microsoft gets their issues ironed out and posts it again. Better location services can only improve the Windows Phone experience, so long as it plays by the user’s rules.
“The team is looking for highly motivated, extremely intelligent, and deeply technical people to build the core location service platform. We are tasked with delivering a highly scalable service to find the location of every Windows Phone device in the world, either by assisting GPS, or by using signal-analysis techniques to compute location where GPS cannot. You will work closely with MSR and other research groups to improve our algorithms for mining large amounts of data using Bayesian analysis and other machine learning techniques. We have incredibly hard problems to solve in the coming year such as solving the indoor positioning problem as well as motion detection and relevance based positioning.”