Google Gears, the gears that power the tubes (really a browser plug-in that lets you work in web apps offline) has been updated with enhanced geo-location powers for laptops, so now developers can "securely locate users to within 200m accuracy" in hundreds of cities in either IE, Firefox, Safari or Chrome, and soon, Opera. Sorta kinda like Skyhook, which the iPhone uses, it triangulates your position against Wi-Fi access points around you.
Obviously, this opens up all kinds of location-based hotness that was oddly sorta restricted to phones—on your notebook in Harbucks and wanna find some nearby Japanese food, or a coffee place that doesn't burn their beans? Or just find out what's going on within your immediate area with super-local news.
If you've got some weird privacy sniggles, Gears doesn't record user location, though the site you're visiting very well might. So the Goog recommends sticking with sites you trust. But you might as well get over it—location-based services are the very near future. [Google via Ars]