How to Make a Location-Based App?
Geolocation apps are firmly entrenched in the top 10 list of recent years, and today the trend still remains one of the leading. The geolocation expands the capabilities of mobile apps improving your interaction with a client. Moreover, the feature serves as a source of new ideas for developers and marketers. The high popularity of niche applications, such as Uber, confirms this fact.
If you’re planning to develop a mobile application with the geolocation feature, our article is meant for you. We are ready to disassemble all the nuances of such a difficult process and explain how to create a location-based app. Also, you’ll know what budget one should prepare. So, start reading!
Why do we need location-based apps?
In the quest for trends, more and more geo-dependent mobile applications have been appearing on the market. Some of them cannot work without locating the user, while others are taking advantage of the geolocation feature in order to make their services more convenient. Navigators, guides, social networks with geotagged photos, fitness applications with the route tracking belong to so-called Location-Based Services. Geolocation is actively being introduced into business app development. But is the game worth the candle? Let's figure it out.
First, we define the basic functions of geolocation app development:
- Information function: providing the user with information about the nearest objects or objects of a certain location.
- Social function: the ability to know the location of other users.
- Communication function: the ability to register a place on the map (and it’ll be available to all users), to leave feedback about visiting a certain place or read reviews of others, to link your own content to a specific place on the map (a photo or a text message).
- Marketing function. Geolocation has become a tool to target incentive marketing campaigns and the basis to get new mechanics of interaction with the consumer.
Let's analyze the factors which explain why location-based services are so greatly introduced into the consumer business and social communications. We should distinguish two groups of interests:
Consumer interest in GPS app development:
- expansion of the boundaries of "sociality". Previously, an individual would demonstrate to others his identity through his page in a social network. However, the information was "static": frozen facts, the imprinted moments of the past… The introduction of the location feature has become a logical and improved continuation of this trend - the user has gained "dynamism". Now he can tell more about his lifestyle, daily routine, social level.
- high involvement of users in the process of recommendations, assessments, ranking. Almost all successful social location-based services use to some extent the game factor when interacting with a customer so that he could help them generate the independent content. Among other things, users’re free to create new geolocation marks to obtain an exclusive status or to score more points. The mechanism has a very powerful viral potential which now is far from being fully disclosed.
- commercial benefits. A typical customer also appreciates another great advantage of location apps, namely - a wonderful chance to get recommendations, tips, and hints from other people who have already used a particular point of service. Thus, location-based app development expands its range of influence: instead of just informing what is going on around the user, these apps have become a discount hunting tool.
Business interest in geolocation app development:
- synchronization between location-based apps and company systems. Given the statistics data, geolocation technology expects to have huge growth in the coming years. If the business wants to gain a competitive advantage, one needs to start working with the audience of location services and include the task in the marketing plan. The recent decision of Foursquare to charge a symbolic fee for verifying points of companies on the map proves that this geolocation tool brings profit to business units. Previously, verification was free of charge.
- location-based mobile advertising. The system automatically determines the location of a person by using GPS coordinates and takes advantage of this parameter to target advertisements. Such advertising can be implemented as push notifications being sent by mobile apps with GPS geolocations. Let's say a person walks down the street and receives a message which tells him about a great close-out sale in the nearest store - it would be impressive, right?
- processing of user information. By registering in certain places, the user draws, in a manner of speaking, his own self-portrait. Based on the information obtained, you have a chance to form a clear picture of each customer. In the future, such data will allow you to make individual offers to users. Need an example? Suppose you have a restaurant… GPS apps with locating technology would allow you to provide your clients with discounts on business lunches - but don't offer these discounts to all customers, choose those who usually put marks in this location in the afternoon. Such approach’ll help you achieve your goal at no extra cost!
- joint use of location-based services and augmented reality. Perhaps, it’s the most impressive use of geolocation capabilities. The bottom line is that virtual elements are superimposed on real-world objects. And you can train a smartphone on your target, namely, on any city point, and the screen will display all the information about it.
If you haven’t decided yet whether you need to find out how to build a location-based app, we suggest you consider the main types of geolocation services we’re describing below.
Types of geolocation apps
Location-based apps are conditionally divided into several groups:
#1. Geosocial applications
Users often attach geotags to photos and videos on social networks: the address of a restaurant, a nightclub, a gym or a resort. Communicating in messengers, we prefer to send our location in response to the question "Where are you?". It's much easier and faster than writing an address. And dating applications have gotten a new birth with the help of the locating technology which allows us to find our pair nearby.
#2. Maps and navigation
Now we’re talking about the most obvious approach to the GPS geolocation app development: such mobile apps are designed to help users not get lost in an unfamiliar area. The most popular services of this type are Google Maps and different programs determining traffic jams.
#3. On-demand services
Location detection is a very convenient option for a number of mobile apps with GPS geolocation. Now you can сall a taxi, order the delivery of flowers or food in just a few clicks, without waiting for the operator's reply. So information about how to make a location-based app will be of service to almost any business owner who wants to increase customer loyalty.
#4. Fitness trackers and healthcare applications
Fitness applications are at the height of their fame. Location-based services contribute to the popularity by helping to track jogging routes and overall sports progress on a regular basis. One can share his sports achievements in social networks by attaching statistics or a map with the route passed.
#5. Augmented reality and games
The Pokemon Go game which had conquered the world in 2016 also uses a location feature. Based on GPS and Google maps, the mobile application allows you to "catch Pokemon" throughout the city. Moreover, the service carries a social aspect and unites gamers into teams. Therefore, if you have to make an exciting mobile game, think about the question of how to create a location-based app, it'll be the right way to translate your idea into reality.
#6. Finding services, recommendations, discounts
GPS apps of this type include Yelp and Foursquare which give users the opportunity to compile ratings of different institutions and dining places after visiting them.
In addition, there are location-based apps such as P% P: developed by SBS Soft, it shows on the map goods and services at a discount (within a radius of 1 km from the user). The discount can be received at a distance of 500 meters from the establishment after the cashier has confirmed the request.
#7. Travel apps
Services designed to find tickets and housing are still leading in the app market. No wonder! They can really become indispensable tools to plan travel and business trips. And if you are the owner of a travel agency, think about the location-based application development.
#8. GPS apps for weather forecasting
Take a look at another great idea for GPS app development. For instance, Yahoo Weather uses location data to simplify the process of user interaction with the mobile application, reducing the number of actions which must be performed.
#9. Location-based apps to improve your business
These services allow companies to track the location of employees, plan logistics of couriers and freight.
Laundry service workers may use the geolocation application to build the most convenient route between customers. In addition, an offline business’re able to quickly inform clients about loyalty programs and offer individual bonuses.
Do you have your business? Maybe you should create a geolocation app too!
The geolocation feature in mobile applications such as eBay and Amazon significantly improves the quality of logistics and positively affects the user experience.
#11. The location apps notify of dangerous situations
Unfortunately, the modern world is not as secure as we wish it to be. Natural disasters and terrorist attacks occur quite often. So it's a smart idea to create a geolocation service that collects data by analyzing news headlines on regional sites. Sending notifications of precarious situations nearby, it allows users to know about possible hazards on time.
Mobile apps for geolocation are not limited to taxi service or the search for the nearest coffee shop. Analyze all the users' routine activities associated with the location and try to come up with the idea of simplifying them through location-based services. You can use these technologies both in the external direction by increasing sales and loyalty, and on the internal vector by improving efficiency and cutting costs.
How to create a location-based app?
To create mobile apps with GPS geolocation, you need to take advantage of special location services and maps which can be added using the API.
There are several ways to determine the location. We’re going to tell you about the most popular of them.
This is a very popular locating technology when the location is determined by satellite signals.
All mobile devices have a built-in GPS module. A tablet or phone with the activated geolocation feature is continuously receiving a signal from at least 3 satellites simultaneously. The time which the signal needs in order to reach the Earth multiplied by the speed gives the distance to the object (with corrections for inaccuracies).
- The high speed of determining the location.
- The high accuracy of GPS-receivers (if conditions are good). You can even determine the altitude above sea level, which is important to some location-based apps.
- Reduced battery life. Despite the fact that the developers are working hard to reduce the power consumption of GPS, the device's charge is still depleted quickly.
- Insufficient reliability. Any systems may fail, but GPS performance is particularly affected by the ability of the device to interact with satellites in orbit. So, in a tunnel or basement, it is almost impossible to determine the exact location.
- Influence of atmospheric conditions and obstacles. Buildings, trees, and geomagnetic storms sometimes cause signal deviations up to 80 meters.
In spite of certain drawbacks of GPS technology, we do not advise you to abandon it. In many cases, such locating technology justifies itself and can be very effective for geolocation app development.
#2. Cell ID
If the GPS signal is not available, geolocation app development needs another approach. In this case, the location is determined using the cell towers. The smartphone “knows” which mobile tower it is connected to. The received coordinates of the mobile station allow determining the location of the smartphone and its owner.
- The service works even when the GPS signal is not available.
- The locating technique is a great choice for large cities.
- Low position accuracy. In some cases, inaccuracies can reach several hundred meters.
This method is also “right-to-life”. Consider its benefits when thinking about how to build a location-based app.
Assisted GPS Service (A-GPS) is one more quiet efficient locating technology. A-GSP generates combined information obtained from the satellite and the server and transmits the data via the Internet using Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
- The high speed of determining the location.
- Economical battery power consumption.
- Increased sensitivity in "problem areas" (tunnels, depressions, dense forest).
- Restrictions. Some A-GPS functions do not work outside the cellular coverage area.
- Increased costs. At startup, the service consumes a small amount of traffic, and if the signal is lost, it requires a re-synchronization. As a result, we have additional costs, especially when roaming.
Of course, this A-GPS service has its own disadvantages, but, in general, it is of interest for location-based application development.
Another option to determine geolocation for GPS app development is the use of beacons with the help of the "Bluetooth low energy" technology. The beacons work on batteries and transmit a signal to the user's device through Bluetooth. The iOS platform offers to use the iBeacon API, and Android provides us with the Eddystone locating technology and the AltBeacon protocol.
Such a method of geolocation is suitable for closed rooms and location-based mobile apps which operate without the Internet.
- Ease of use. BLE-beacons are easy to install indoors.
- The high accuracy of locating a user.
- It's costly. Sometimes algorithms require a significant initial investment.
- A lifetime of beacons. Periodically, the device will have to be updated, as well as its batteries.
- The small radius of action.
The BLE locating technology is definitely worth considering if you have decided to create a geolocation service.
Wi-Fi is a good option for geolocation app development too. It works in two ways: using RSSI, determining the location from the database, or via Google Maps.
- Ease of use. By connecting Wi-Fi, the user finds the active network and its location. While there is a connection, the system works.
- The location is determined fairly quickly.
- Covering a smaller area, compared to GPS.
It’s a simple and effective method. It’ll come in handy if you want to build apps based on geolocation.
Geofencing is a growing locating technology. In mobile apps with GPS geolocations, it takes advantage of the user's position and determines the time at which a person enters the specified virtual perimeter. As an example, when a customer approaches a designated point, a push notification is sent to his mobile phone offering him a coupon or discount. The radius of geophysical coverage is up to 500 meters.
This way of GPS app development has become quite popular nowadays though it has its pitfalls, alas.
- Possibility to cover larger territories, in comparison with BLE-beacons.
- A lot of business opportunities including remote monitoring of employees, loyalty programs for customers, push notification systems, etc.
- Limited range (up to 500 meters).
- High power consumption.
Now you know which systems to use if you want to find out how to create a location-based app. We guess it’s time to take a look at the market leaders!
Interesting and impressive location-based services
We suggest you analyze how other GPS apps are using the geolocation feature. Perhaps, these exciting examples will give you the idea of a great location-based app able to improve your user experience. After all, this aim should be your main priority.
Scope, one of the mobile apps with GPS geolocation, allows you to see what is happening in different parts of the globe at a particular moment. It's very simple: users are forming a network of anonymous witnesses marked on the map. You choose, let us say, a city in Japan, find a user there and send a request: "Show what's going on!". In response, you get a short video panorama.
Scope has found its way to use geolocation app development, and it’s quite impressive, agree?
This is the official location-based application of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC-CSEM). LastQuake has been developed by seismologists, it's aimed to alert the public and collect evidence in real time.
For earthquake detection, EMSC uses the latest techniques based on:
- reports of earthquake witnesses;
- the Internet and mobile technologies allowing to collect the information on the manifestations of the earthquake observed by witnesses.
- providing real-time information;
- customizable notification levels (devastating earthquakes, earthquakes near you, etc.);
- access to comments, photos, and videos made by witnesses;
- information exchange through social networks;
- the ability to send SMS to your family and friends if you are in an area that was affected by an earthquake;
- recommendations on precautionary measures after an earthquake.
Snapchat is a mobile messaging app with photos and videos attached. One of the main concepts of Snapchat is that images and messages are available for a short pre-set time.
And once Snapchat owners decided to use GPS geolocation app development to improve the user experience. It happened in July 2014, when a feature known as "Geofilters" had been added. It allows a user to take advantage of special graphics overlays available when he or she is in a certain geographical location (at McDonald's or elsewhere). Snapchat users can also create and send their own Geofilters.
Agree, Snapchat has found a great way to use the geolocation feature to increase the engagement factor! We hope, it has given you some wonderful ideas on how to build a location-based app able to improve the user experience.
More information about Snapchat and its fascinating features is waiting for you in this article.
The Trigger application also uses the feature associated with GPS geolocation app development.
Trigger automates the process of performing the simplest primary tasks. Such an amazing tool’s able to turn off the sound in the phone or mute it, change the brightness of the display depending on the time of day, set the alarm and much more. For instance, it may turn on your GPS-navigator as soon as you get into the car. At work, when the device finds and activates the Wi-Fi network, the sound’ll immediately go off or the vibration alert’ll be set. In the evening, when you want to read an e-book before going to bed, the phone or tablet will automatically switch to night mode. All you have to do is to pre-set markers or so-called triggers. Well, we admit: Trigger owners know how to make a location-based app and thereby improve interaction with the user!
#5. Foursquare Swarm
Swarm is the best way to track the places you used to visit. You’ll no longer have to ransack memory for forgotten things, trying to recall the name of a new cafe where you had been offered to taste delicious noodles. No matter if you are a local or tourist: Swarm will help you remember all the places you need.
Well, how do you like such an idea of location-based mobile app development? Not bad, right?
WherezMoney also belongs to GPS apps, it’s designed to improve financial management, budget control, cost management, and cost geolocation. It allows you to trace where you have spent your money.
The complexity of geolocation app development
The most important problem when creating location-based services is a security issue.
You need to pay attention to the following factors:
- by law, all data on the movements of users which are being collected and processed must be depersonalized. But how to control this process? That's the real problem!
- information is not just collected, but processed and analyzed. Such a scheme reveals a variety of interesting patterns… The question is how to use the information obtained? What is ethical and what is not?
By making personal information public, a user risks becoming an object of misconduct that affects his privacy. In March 2017, Apple has blocked a mobile application named Girls Around Me which showed men the location of women nearby.
To avoid the so-called "stalking effect", location-based services will most likely evolve towards strictly closed groups of friends (for instance, take a look at the application "Find my friends" from Apple).
Undoubtedly, every company collecting any information about users will act as correctly as possible, since there is such a thing as reputational costs which sometimes are very high.
The main point is to find experienced developers who know how to create a location-based app which will be really secure and protected from hacking.
How much does it cost to create geolocation applications?
The choice of locating technology needed will depend on the purpose of mobile apps with GPS geolocation and the basic requirements to them. Speed, accuracy, reliability, usability, range, and power consumption are the main characteristics helping determine the best way to implement a geolocation feature.
But, in general, what possibilities do you have in order to save during the process of GPS app development?
If you want to save in the mobile app development process, do not hire IT experts from the US or Western Europe: they work qualitatively but have high rates. Our option is developers from Ukraine (all the arguments in favor of this choice is detailed in our article).
- USA ($ 100-150 and more). The cost of a simple application: from $10 000 - 20 000.
- Great Britain (£ 100-180). The cost of a simple application: from $18 000 - 20 000.
- Western Europe (80 -150 €). The cost of a simple application: from $18 000 -19 000.
- Eastern Europe ($ 20-70). The cost of a simple application: from $5 000 - 8 000.
- Ukraine (about 30-50 $). The cost of a simple application: from $ 5,000 and more.
- India ($ 10-30). The cost of a simple application: from $ 5,000. The price is rather low, but the code quality is quite depressing
#2. The functionality of GPS apps
Given that you can create a geolocation application for different purposes and services (taxi, restaurant business, etc.), it's impossible to name a certain price. However, we’re able to say how long it’ll take to build apps of varying complexity. With this information, it's easy to calculate the approximate budget you need.
- Simple applications - about 250-400 hours of work.
- Applications of medium complexity - about 500-700 hours of work.
- Complex apps - more than 700 hours.
Stages of location-based application development
The GPS app development consists of the following stages:
- Market exploration and analysis of the competitors. You can perform these actions yourself and contact the company with a ready solution and a formed request. Otherwise, if you are not sure of your abilities, you should ask a professional agency to help you with this matter.
- Prototyping. Now your project is being visualized and its logical structure is being made up. As a result, you get an idea of what your application will look like and which screens it’ll include.
- Design of mobile apps with GPS geolocation. UX/UI design is a special sphere which requires experts to sense a style. App design should be clean, understandable, intuitive.
- The coding process is a key geolocation app development stage. It is desirable that the company should have iOS, Android, and web developers - if you want to create a geolocation app which will work on all platforms.
- Testing. Never neglect the stage of testing! Otherwise, you risk getting an application which will fail at the most inopportune moment. As a result, frustrated users are likely to delete the program they've already installed, and you’ll need to make a lot of effort to persuade them to change their minds and download it again.
- The release completes the location-based mobile app development process. Of course, you still have a lot of work to do, but the main thing has already been done.
We hope you've seen how important it is to enable the geolocation feature in your application. It improves the interaction with customers and allows delivering them information in the right place and at the right time.