Location based apps are ubiquitous these days – many mobile apps integrate geolocation features from Uber, Google Maps, to many other apps you use daily.
As per Markets and Markets report, the Location-Based Services (LBS) and Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2024.
Thanks to smartphones becoming a common thing, developing an app with geolocation could expose your business to many more potential users in your or other target markets.
Popular industries using geolocation
It is hard to find applications without geolocation – from Google Maps to Weather apps, Uber etc. – all those apps have geolocation within. Even photos in your camera roll are organized by the location (if you did not turn it off 😉).
Some of the industries that use and rely geolocation are:
Giant retailers like Target, IKEA and similar use geolocation to boost their in-store experience. By using GPS, they help customers find the nearest store or choose a delivery location. Some of those utilize navigation features that rely on Beacons more than on common GPS technology.
Deliver services and on-demand businesses are another popular geolocation users – Wolt or Glovo services enable users to track their orders (whether food or other) in real time.
Similar to delivery, these services use GPS features to a great extent – for example, Uber relies on users’ location to match passengers with nearby drivers enabling users to track where their taxi is, when it will arrive and monitor estimated travel duration in real time.
If you need servicemen or want to buy certain products, location based apps can help you find local businesses nearby.
GPS data is heavily used in fleet management like Onfleet or public transportation systems like Moovit. This way, users are notified about delays and arrivals plus you can use these types of apps for personal cars and carpooling.
Transportation apps also use this technology to manage fleets of vehicles in real-time. Companies utilize them to track their assets and discover the most efficient routes, thus saving overall fleet maintenance costs up to 40%, as per their reports.
All travel apps have geolocation, being a map view or ability for users to find a hotel nearest to your current location or a specific location. The giant apps like Booking, AirBnB offer geolocation capabilities for their users to be able to locate and book the nearest or the most convenient accommodation as per their preferences.
This feature is also essential with last minute hotel bookings like Recharge or ByHours.
Nowadays, if you workout, you probably know about Nike+, Runtastic and other fitness apps that provide geolocation – these access your phone GPS data to map your routes, track speed or connect with fellow runners in your area.
You can also use geolocation to locate the nearest fitness studio or trainers and view local feeds in apps that support video streaming.
Social Media & Dating
Although some dating apps commonly use geolocation to connect users located near each other, location features are optional within social apps hence the users can turn on or off location when necessary. Location functionality proved valuable in these types of apps as users can connect with others in their area. Some apps offer a map view allowing you to use geotags on your posts for other users near you to see and possibly connect.
One of the most popular games Pokemon Go, made such popularity by extensively using geolocation.
Similar games, like treasure or scavenger hunts, also use this type of location feature.
The IoT sector uses geolocation despite the specific industry – for example, wearable devices like smart watches or fitness trackers can be used to track a users’ location.
Some of other examples relate to family safety and pet care that use special tags like in PawScout.
Today, you can track anything, for example with an app LugLoc, you can track your luggage, vehicle to any type of valuables.
Geolocation is also used by weather apps to show relevant weather forecasts to users at a given location. There are many weather apps on the market for Android or iOS that provide detailed insights and ability to filter information per preferences (i.e. storms,
In addition to this, these apps can send out alerts for hurricanes, blizzards or wildfires, hence saving lives and helping people prepare in such situations.
How to develop a location based mobile app - A step-by-step guide
1. Explore the market and build the app concept
Talk to potential users and explore the competitors on the market.
Get to know existing market competitors and their benefits and weaknesses. The key is to find your own unique benefit that your users will be attracted to and set yourself apart from your competitors.
Define a target group and talk to a few potential users to discover their needs, thus you can better understand their expectations.
Once you check the competitors and users’ needs, outline benefits of your app for the users and provide UVP (Unique Value Proposition) that will appeal to your target market.
2. Choose the location tracking technology and the tech stack
Most location based apps today utilize Google Maps SDK. With iOS, you can also use native MapKit provided by Apple. There are also less known frameworks like HERE or OpenStreetMap for you to consider.
Additionally, you can consider using WiFi or Beacons to identify users’ locations -just make sure you make it quick and reliable. A common issue is that GPS-based apps drain users’ battery quickly thus take it into account.
Some core geolocation features include:
- A map view
- Places near me finder
- User location detection
- Location-based notifications
- Location history
Other features depend on your own app and its nature:
- Location sharing with friends
- Real time updates on traffic
- Ratings and recommendations
- Weather forecast
- Search location by photos
- And more.
Although it is crucial to keep the number of features to a minimum, especially when building MVP, keep in mind additional features that could match your app’s purpose and set you apart from your competitors.
4. Data safety
Data safety regulations become more and more strict nowadays, hence do not ignore your app’s security when it comes to data-heavy products like location-based apps.
Make sure that your app comply with local regulations of your target market country.
Create a visual representation of your mobile app to validate your concept.
Once you import app details into wireframes, you can go out and test your idea with potential users – then you can pitch your idea to interested parties or investors and prove your app’s value.
This part is the most time-consuming when you develop an app that uses geolocation.
Find a reliable partner that follows Agile software development methodologies for the best results since you can not only overview the progress of your product development but also make slight modifications along the way as agile development allows such actions.
Testing would usually be the last step in the software development however, not all development companies leave it for the end.
Early testing or test-driven development proved to be much more efficient. In these cases, you test a part of a product upon a completed milestone or write the tests before creating the code resulting in code with fewer bugs and increased transparency.
8. App Release
Now, your app is ready to be available for users throughout the App Store, Play Store and relevant websites.
Even the best performing apps may not get the downloads it deserves without the proper marketing – it gives the exposure to your app within your target group and drives the downloads up.
Marketing should start even before and during development – you can use social media to build a community around it and share valuable app updates and trigger interest among the potential users.
Location-based apps have become essential for businesses to grow sales, improve customer engagements and provide personalized experience. With the right features and technology, such apps help companies succeed.
Building a location-based mobile app is a consuming process, yet with the right tech partner it can be a smooth experience. Contact us and we will help you through each step to ensure your location-based mobile app is a success.