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First, there's the AJAX API property that provides a simple way to get an approximate, region-level estimate of a user's location based on their IP address. It's as simple as referencing google.loader.ClientLocation, which is made available using the Google AJAX API Loader. This API does not require users to install any client-side software. You can see this new AJAX API in action as part of the 2008 US Election gadget -- the "News by State" will show local news for the state associated with the user's IP.
Second, the Gears Geolocation API provides a way to get a more precise estimate of a user's location. On mobile devices with Gears installed, the Geolocation API can use the cell-ID of nearby cell towers or on-board GPS (if either is available) to improve the postion fix. In the near future, we'll be adding data from your WiFi connection to improve accuracy even further, on both desktop and mobile. In all cases, Gears takes care of assimilating the results from each source and returning the best available position estimate.