Published: March 18, 2017
8 min read
Last updated: May 2, 2022
In this article, you'll learn:
📍 Location-Based Mobile App: What Is It and What Technologies Does It Use?
📱 Top 10 Ideas How to Implement Geolocation in a Mobile App
🛠️ Development Process
Don’t miss this opportunity. The world is nuts about location-based services as never before. Any doubts? It’s enough to mention the stunning success of such apps like Foursquare, Instagram, Google Maps or even Pokémon Go to bring you over to my side. And you will only benefit from this.
Impressing, isn't it?
According to one of the latest surveys, every 3rd American adult uses geolocation services at least once a week. Where do my friends usually hang out? How can I get to…? Where is the most delicious pizza in the city baked?
More and more people expect their smartphones to answer these and plenty of other questions, and you can make it possible for them. How? You are going to reveal it right now.
Location-based apps provide both users and entrepreneurs with an exciting experience that is impossible to gain somehow else. What exactly they can do? Take a look at the three key features:
Sounds familiar to you, right? But what is behind this “technological magic”? Let’s review the most common technologies that help modern smartphones to successfully determine user’s location.
Ofttimes a definition “GPS apps” is used along with “location-based apps”, but don’t confound these two. Geolocation basically comprises mapping and location services. For this purpose, you will need one of the following technologies.
GPS stands for the Global Positioning System which is a part of any modern smartphone or tablet. It allows your device to gather data regarding time, location and moving from satellites.
Interesting fact: wherever you are on the Earth, there are no less than 4 GPS satellites flying above you. During a process called trilateration your device calculates the distance to every satellite by receiving radio signals from them. That’s how your location is pinpointed.
GPS is the most well-known kind of geolocating technology (image by Antonius Setiadi K)
Also, GPS doesn’t require an Internet connection or any other special conditions. It’s accurate enough, fast and easy to use. That’s why GPS is the most well-known locating technology.
It’s also possible to use other types of signal. For example, to acquire data from the cell tower to which your smartphone is connected. A device will identify the location of this cell station and then, relying on this information, will provide a user with geolocation.
It is a mixture of the two technologies mentioned above. On the one hand, assisted GPS helps to generate more accurate data, but on the other, it also consumes more energy which is a nightmare of a modern smartphone owner.
Need another solution? Wi-Fi networks can collect all required data from the Internet. However, there are not many open access points, so Wi-Fi location systems are really useful and helpful only for users from megapolises.
Wi-Fi is another tool that provides mobile apps with geolocation (image by Hector Heredia)
The main purpose of this technology is to build a more accurate navigation inside the building. Such type of geolocation in a mobile app is indispensable for business owners who want to provide their customers with the best experience.
For example, you can start guiding your client as soon as he comes in. Or you can analyze his location and send him the most relevant offers or ads. iBeacon and Eddystone are your helpers here.
With the newest technologies, it is possible to guide users even inside buildings (image by Lynne Lan)
We have discovered the technologies that make up the core of any location-based app. Now let’s talk about how you can use it for developing your business.
How to Select an Agency for Your App Development?
I bet the first thing you think about when you hear the word “geolocation” is Google Maps. However, it’s just a tip of the iceberg. There is a dozen of other ways to implement geolocation in your app. Let's review proven and the most popular ones.
Examples: Google Maps, Waze.
It would be impossible to create a navigation app without geolocation technologies (image by Udhaya chandran)
It’s probably the most obvious way to apply geolocation – to turn it into an essential tool when it comes to directing people and building optimal routes. Despite it doesn’t seem like a fresh idea in 2017, this kind of apps is often (and it’s not going to change erelong) extremely helpful for users and profitable for its creators.
Examples: Instagram, Periscope.
People really like to create, share and discuss a location-based content. Instagram’s success story is an explicit example. Though geolocation is not a core part of such apps, it’s essential for creating the best possible user experience.
Examples: Weather Underground, Yahoo Weather.
Your exact location helps weather forecasting apps to provide the most accurate information for you (image by BeardChicken)
These apps are “must-have” for everyone who doesn’t want to be deceived by a sunny morning and then, in the afternoon, to be caught in the pelting rain. By applying GPS app development you will provide your users with the most accurate forecasts depending on their whereabouts.
Examples: Foursquare, Yelp.
The best advertising to any place is testimonials. Would you rather believe your closest friend or an ad, written by someone who you have never known? And that’s exactly what recommendation apps are made for – to let your friends easily share their impressions about their favorite places.
Examples: Tinder, Bumble.
You can also develop a mobile app with geolocation to connect people who live in one area according to their interests. It was never so easy to find a new friend or a partner who lives next door.
Examples: Moves, RunKeeper, Fitbit.
More and more mobile apps with GPS geolocation are created for fitness lovers (image by Renat Muratshin)
Fitness is definitely the new black nowadays. And the location tracking for walking and running activities makes it even more popular. That means today fitness apps are not only about a fashion, but also a profit.
Examples: Uber, OpenTable, Postmates.
Mobile applications are designed to facilitate modern people’s lives, so why not to create a mobile app with GPS geolocation for this purpose? Order the nearest taxi or a delicious pizza from the closest to your location pizzeria, find a cozy restaurant at the city square and book a table there – the range of possible ideas for startups is not limited to anything other than your creative imagination.
Example: Pockémon GO, Landlord 2.
It may seem at first that GPS has nothing in common with games, but don’t rush to draw conclusions. Just remember the last year fad about Pockémon GO and what it has done to users all over the world. No doubt, it wouldn’t be so insanely popular without integrated GPS.
Example: TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Airbnb.
Travel apps can often replace a map and a guide (image by The Major)
Some people like an obscurity, but majority prefers to have their vacation thought out and well-planned. Where to stay, what to see, and a bunch of other similar questions doesn’t scare travelers anymore due to this group of apps.
Examples: eBay, Asos, Zara.
Sometimes users may not even know about geolocation in a mobile app, but still benefit from it. For example, e-commerce apps often use it to provide their customers with optimum and fast delivery.
You are already able to choose a business idea and suitable for it mapping and locating technology. That’s why I want to pay an attention now to some key moments related to a geolocation app development.
A location-based mobile app is still an app, so it should have all the common features, such as:
Along with all above you shouldn’t forget about specific elements of apps with geolocation. For example:
You will also need some special SDK’s to create a location based app. For both platforms these are Google Maps SDK (adds maps in the app) and Google Places API (detects location). Also on iOS you can use Apple’s native MapKit instead of Google Maps SDK for adding maps to the app.
Our developers suggest you building a native app with geolocation. Such custom apps usually provide users with a better experience. However, it may be too expensive to develop an application for every single platform, so you can try cheaper alternatives.
So, now you have a business idea, a technology to make it real and some development tips. What’s missing? Estimated costs. As always, it’s difficult to give you a concrete figure because too many factors influence it.
Development of such a sophisticated app will require much more time and resources (image by Leo Leung)
However, costs are directly connected with an amount of time required to integrate mentioned above features. Thus it takes:
So, according to some of Stormotion's estimations, location-based app development can cost you:
Approximate Time (in hours)
🛵 Food Delivery App (customer, courier and web apps)
509; 334; 139
$15,270; $10,020; $4,865
[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?
Location-based apps significantly changed different spheres of our life. Despite it’s not a brand new technology, these apps attract more and more users every year. So don’t hesitate to use this advantage for your own profit. Let's underline the key ideas:
Take your chance and good luck when you decide to build a location-based app!
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