Do you want to develop a location-based app? In this article, I will Introduce to Location-Based App Development.
GPS is a useful feature that we always have at our disposal. Since smartphones can track your location, enterprises have taken this feature to their advantage. That’s how location-based services appeared.
According to recent studies,
The location-based market will reach $40 billion by 2024.
This field is developing intensively. The global GPS market research states that location-based services are dominating among such gigantic industries as aviation, marine, and military. Actually, that’s not a surprise, because location-based services are everywhere — from food delivery apps to booking platforms.
You need special mobile features for developing food delivery app. Location is one of those.
But how to build a successful location-based application? What tools to use, and what features to implement? We will talk about it in this post.
Table of Contents
Implementation of Geolocation Services
Now, let’s figure out the processes behind location-based applications.
Geolocation sends a request to several satellites about your position. Then, the device receives the answer from satellites and gets your current location by solving an equation. Each satellite’s response is a variable, and your position stands for the unknown.
As for the devices, anything that has a GPS module or connects to Wi-Fi can send geolocation requests. What does it have in common with Wi-Fi?
Actually, you don’t necessarily have to use the satellite system. For example, you can find out the location of your mobile device just using the data given by cellular networks stations or with the help of the address of the Wi-Fi access point.
Here are some key features of location-based services applications:
- Users share their location with others (like sending your position in messengers)
- Applications measure the distance between objects (Google maps estimate the distance to the designated point on the map)
- Applications build the fastest routes from one location to another (Uber determines the shortest route to the destination)
Geolocation Use Cases
Geolocation can find an appliance in plenty of applications — from car-sharing to dating applications.
The top favorite geolocation use cases
- Location monitoring (Waze, Google Maps, Glympse)
- Messengers, social network apps (Facebook, Telegram)
- Dating apps (Tinder, Badoo)
- Food delivery applications (UberEats, Postmates)
- Travel apps (TripAdvisor, Skyscanner)
- Booking apps (Airbnb, booking)
- Weather apps (Yahoo Weather, AccuWeather)
Another type of geo app that is worth a special mention is location-based games. Today they use geolocation technologies in combination with augmented reality.
For example, famous Pokemon GO tracks your location and deploys pokemons around you. Ingress Prime is another type of location-based game. Here, players are divided into two groups which compete for control over the area by solving different tasks in various parts of the city.
If you are developing a mobile application, it takes a lot of time. You have to follow the proper strategies to reduce development time.
So, what technologies are used for building a location-based app? Every app of this group needs geo detecting services and maps.
Location-based services can be divided into two categories — indoors and outdoors.
Let’s look closer at both of them.
Outdoor Geolocation Technologies
Outdoor navigation is meant to help users detect their position outdoors, building practical routes, and getting to the marked points quickly.
We’ve already discussed some outdoor navigation tech before, but let’s talk about them in detail.
- GPS: Every up-to-date smartphone has an integrated GPS module. It’s the most common way to receive a user’s current position. GPS modules are the most precise location method by far. However, the only drawback of GPS is battery consumption.
- Cellular Detection: Whenever it’s impossible to use GPS, you can monitor your location by cell towers that are in your area. This is not a very precise way of detecting your position due to the dependency on the signal. If you are far away from the transceiver, geolocation won’t work out.
- Wi-Fi Positioning: Using geolocation via Wi-Fi is decent at accuracy (inaccuracy ranging from 25-50 meters). It provides a more stable outcome than cellular ID, but a fundamental weakness is that you always have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Indoor Geolocation Technologies
For now, it’s clear with outdoor geolocation. But what about tracking inside the building?
It can be used for guiding your customers across the store from the same moment they opened the door. Or when you send the most attractive offers and ads depending on customers’ location.
So, indoor positioning can deliver new navigation experience inside buildings.
Now, let’s come through different navigation technologies.
Geofencing is another marketing technique that represents a mix of GPS, cellular ID, and Wi-Fi tracking.
How does it work? When a device crosses a virtual border, a location signal triggers a preprogrammed action.
These triggers may vary according to the needs of the application. Here are three basic types of triggers:
- Static Trigger: The position of a trigger is attached to a particular place.
- Dynamic Trigger: The position of a trigger can change on demand.
- Peer-to-Peer: Trigger’s position depends on the position of other users.
As an example, IoT devices manufactured by Xiaomi can turn on when the owner crosses established boundaries.
To get the best accuracy, the minimum radius should be set to 100-150 meters. If the device is connected to Wi-Fi, location deflection can be between 20-50 meters.
iBeacon and Eddystone
Beacons are another option for indoor location monitoring. Now there are two leaders in the field of beacons — iBeacon, developed by Apple, and Eddystone, developed by Google.
Both of them use BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) for locating. Their working principle is also common — sending out the identifiers. The goal is to trigger actions in applications designed specifically for iBeacon or Eddystone.
As an example, retail stores can develop a special application for customers. When clients approach the product, they can see the description and the price of it on their screens.
For now, that’s all for the technologies, and it’s time to talk about the process of location-app development.
Related Read: 7 Easy Steps to Become The Best App Designer
Steps to Develop A Location-Based App
So, what are the main steps you need to take in order to make a successful navigation app? Let’s explore four main stages.
Step 1: Explore the Market
When setting up a business plan, the first thing to think about is market research.
It’s crucial to analyze the target audience and the problems that your app intends to solve. When businesses skip this stage, they risk their money and time because the application may appear useless to clients.
Besides, you should study already existing applications. By checking the solutions of the rivals, you can detect their advantages and weaknesses. That’s how you will learn from someone else’s experience.
Step 2: Hire a Reliable Development Team
The key indicators when choosing a development team are fair quality-price ratio and vendor’s hands-on experience on the subject.
The essential point is to check the company cases. Find out about the previous location-based projects of the company, the technologies they use, etc.
Besides, check feedback from the previous customers of the company. Platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms monitor every review. You’ll have a clear idea of what type of company you cooperate with.
Step 3: Decide on a Technical Stack
When the team is settled, it’s time to decide on the technology stack for mobile applications.
Some of the technologies that are usually used for developing geolocation applications will be listed below:
- HTML5 geolocation API
- Google Maps API
- Google Places API
- Apple MapKit
- Core Location API
- Google Maps SDK
It has become an easy developing Android App with a new Android studio. Follow all the steps mentioned.
- Google Maps API
- Google Maps Directions API
- Google Distance Matrix API
- Google Location Services API
- Open Street Map
You can also use JQuery and HTML5 for developing a mobile application.
Step 4: Take Care of Security Issues
Security is the major concern for location-based apps, so take care of data safety.
If user data leak outside of your databases, that may cause serious legal problems.
To avoid this kind of situation, you should cooperate with privacy and data protectionist lawyers, and your development team should understand how to implement the technologies that will plug the security breaches.
Some advice to make your app secure:
- 2-step verification: Using multi-factor authentication makes it harder for fraudsters to hijack an account.
- SSL certificate: Use an SSL certificate to decrease the risk of sensitive information from being stolen. Also, encrypt incoming and outgoing packages.
- Data safety: Store the valuable data on the server, or encrypt it with cryptographic algorithms and leave it on users’ phones.
This is all about how you can develop a location-based app.
Geolocation services will develop rapidly in the next few years. The field of application is vast — from food delivery to gaming, so there will be new heights to conquer. Just remember to find a reliable team of developers for your application.