This post is meant to be informative as possible while leading up to my question.

When I first purchased my iPod Touch in 2009, Skyhook Wireless was responsible for maintaining the database used by Location Services on Apple devices without GPS.

Since there is no GPS radio in the iPod Touch, Location Services uses an online database of Lat/Long corresponding with the router's hardware MAC address at the Wifi access point. I presume this data was gathered through iPhones' GPS data while connected to these Wifi access points. I also think that Skyhook contracted vehicles similar to how Google gathers Streetview photos.

Regardless, this system worked great until you got into a rural area and connected to a router never exposed to one of these data gathering vehicles. Therefore at my own home, also in a rural area, I could not use any Location Services enabled feature.

So back in 2009 the fix was simple, I had to manually add my router's MAC address along with my Lat/Long coordinates to Skyhook. After a few weeks, the data was correctly added and so anyone connected to my Wifi was accurately shown on a map with a pin on my roof. Any Location Services dependent feature was fully enabled while I was connected to Wifi at my home.

For an unknown reason and corresponding to an iOS version upgrade in Spring of 2010, Location Services stopped functioning from my home. (still worked at most public and less rural locations)

As per postings in the Apple online forums, Apple stopped using Skyhook for Location Services and took this job in-house.

For many months following the Spring of 2010 my Touch could not find my location while at home. To this day, I can confirm that my MAC address is still in the Skyhook database but it doesn't matter because Apple is no longer using Skyhook. There is also no-place to report a router's MAC address with Lat/Long to Apple similar to this.

Suddenly late last year, while at home, Location Services started reporting my location on the main highway just 0.50 miles away. So apparently one of the data gathering vehicles drove down this route and picked up my signal.

I was satisfied. The map location was slightly wrong but the pinpoint was close enough that all Location Services dependent features were again useful to me from my home location. Good enough.

Now this all brings us to today where it's suddenly broken again. Location Services cannot find my location while I am at home and my Location Services dependent apps are useless.

  • Does anyone have additional information or updated news on this topic?

  • A URL similar to this one where one can manually submit a Wifi MAC address and Lat/Long to Apple?

  • If not Apple, what company took over maintaining Location Services from Skyhook for Apple?

1 Answer 1


I'm going to answer the first part of my own question.

After upgrading my iPod Touch to iOS 5, Location Services started working again. Not only did it start working, it's showing the location as a point in the street in front of the house.

1) The location I manually submitted to Skyhook in 2009 was in the street farther south, by the mailbox, so the old data point is not being used. Not suprised since I have no reason to believe that Apple went back to Skyhook. A visit to Skyhook's website verified that this point has not changed.

2) The location that Apple started using last year was a point on the main highway 1/2 mile east of here.

So somehow Apple has independently obtained new data about my wifi location. It's possible that during a recent party, somebody with an iPhone had connected to my Wifi and that data was sent back to Apple. It's also possible that a Wifi data collection vehicle drove down this road. It's very rural with only three homes on a one mile stretch, so although possible it's difficult to believe.

It was my previous understanding that Apple started requiring that devices be within range of several Wifi signals to improve Location Services accuracy. Being in a rural location, it's nearly impossible for my iPod to pick up any Wifi signal other than my own. With Skyhook, this was never an issue.

However, iOS 5 seems to heavily depend on Location Services so maybe they've changed something critical to how it functions in order to improve accuracy without requiring multiple Wifi signals.

I'm going to accept my own answer. If anyone has a better answer to my original question, I'll consider accepting that instead.

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