How to Create A Location-Based App: Detailed Process & GPS Technology Explained

The location-based services market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 28% between 2017 and 2023 and will reach up to $80 billion.

We have written this article to provide you with insights into location-based app development. The following aspects will be unveiled:

  • what is geolocation and what are its main use cases
  • the benefits a geolocation app can give you
  • process to build a GPS app
  • security aspects within GPS apps

Benefits of Developing Location-Based Applications

Location trackers, social networks, dating apps, and fitness applications with GPS route tracking are just part of a vast ecosystem of the apps that use GPS. Various spheres have been actively adopting geolocation technologies.

Advantages of Creating Location-Based Apps

Before defining how to develop this type of app, it is important to find out what the main uses of geolocation are.

So, what is geolocation used for?

  • Source of information
  • Social interaction component
  • Communication
  • Insights from the market
  • Sync of company systems for businesses
  • Next-level experience with augmented reality

You can make a GPS app your unique competitive edge, set your business apart from competitors with its help, and offer a unique user experience.

The development process will run smoothly and without a hitch only if you hire an experienced team with relevant expertise in the creation of these applications.

ReVistor: Travel & AR application

Our team has a vast experience in developing apps that utilize geolocation technologies. Check out the ReVistor app that allows its users to experience historical events where they actually occurred with the help of augmented reality.

12 Use Cases of Location-Based Apps to Know

Examples of Location Based Apps

Let’s take a look at the use cases of the best geolocation apps and get some location-based app ideas.

1. Retail
Look at IKEA and its application as an example. This retail leader uses GPS tracking to locate users and show the stores that are nearest to that particular location.

Some retail chains go even further and provide indoor navigation, which is based on a technology called iBeacon.

2. E-Commerce Apps
The e-commerce industry also takes advantage of location-based service apps. In general, they provide users with the location of the closest shipping centers and delivery offices. eBay gives a good idea of this app type.

3. On-Demand Services
On-demand services are driving the adoption of GPS technology in mobile applications. The examples are numerous and have some well-known names. One of them, Uber, inspired many business owners to explore this service area.

4. HoReCa
The hotel, restaurant, and café industry also widely embraces the use of location-based applications. The most prominent example is Foursquare, which belongs to a group of location-aware applications.

5. Automotive & transportation
If you are working in the transportation industry that will streamline operations, look at Moovit. Moovit is a geo-tracking app that notifies passengers about delays in public transportation.

6. Maps & navigation
This type of GPS mobile solution will probably come first to your mind. There is almost no person who has never heard about or used Google Maps.

7. Travel & Booking
Airbnb has changed the travel and booking industry once and for all. The popularity of the app has encouraged other businesses to look into this app type.

8. Fitness
Fitness applications possibly benefit from GPS technologies the most. The addition of a GPS tracking functionality and an accelerometer can help track running and cycling, map routes, track speeds, and even add a touch of social media by allowing users to share progress within a community.

9. Location-Based Social Media Apps & Geolocation Dating Apps
The vast majority of social media apps, like Facebook and Instagram, offer a geotagging feature that allows users to share photos and videos based on location.

10. Games & AR
We can safely say that Pokémon Go is the most famous name among location-based GPS games. Very often, these games use geolocation tracking to enhance an AR or VR experience.

11. IoT
The Internet of Things consists of a variety of devices, including wearables, fitness trackers, jewelry, and even trackers for pets. By putting a special tag on a pet’s collar, owners can track the movements of the animal, their activity, sleeping patterns, and even get health-related advice or notifications when a lost pet is nearby.

12. Weather Apps
These apps also take advantage of GPS tracking and show relevant weather forecasts based on a given location. Yahoo Weather belongs to the group of apps with this functionality. These apps can also help save lives by sending alerts about approaching hurricanes or wildfires.

Below, you can see a table with the most popular applications and what GPS-enabled functionality they provide.

Technical Side to Build a GPS App

How do location-based apps work?

Location-based applications establish a connection with satellite with the help of mobile device’s operating system. The application gets information about the current device location from OS. By collecting and processing data in real-time, it determines the pattern of a moving object or person.

Geolocation Technologies Used in Location-Based Apps

So, how do you integrate GPS into an app? Actually, there are a few technologies that can help you enable your future application to track location.

In general, GPS apps can be divided into two main types — outdoor and indoor.

Outdoor geolocation technologies:

  • GPS

Modern smartphones are equipped with a chip that enables users to get access to the Global Positioning System (GPS). This allows devices to determine a current location with an accuracy of about 60 feet. To perform this task, GPS needs to get data from at least three satellites.

  • Cell ID

This is a less popular approach due to weak coverage outside of big cities. Cell ID determines location with the help of cell towers. The technology compares the towers to which a device is connected to the database of all stations in the area.

  • Assisted GPS (A-GPS)

This technology combines two of the above — GPS and Cell ID, which allows it to provide a higher level of accuracy as compared to just Cell ID or even solely GPS.

  • Wi-Fi

As compared to Cell ID, Wi-Fi covers smaller areas, which allows the technology to be more precise.

Indoor geolocation technologies:

  • Geofencing

This technology is built on GPS, which is used to determine how close a user is to a particular point. Geofencing is often used in the advertising sphere to provide users with relevant ads and offers. However, possible use cases are much broader, and geofencing is a solution that becomes a part of providing a more personalized experience inside a shop.

  • iBeacon and Eddystone

iBeacon and Eddystone were built by Apple and Google accordingly. These two types of technologies rely on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals. They can send triggers to a device only when a person is within their reach. iBeacon and Eddystone are characterized by a high level of accuracy.

How to Create a Secure Location-Based App?

Before you even start the development of a location-based app, you need to have a clear picture of how to solve the main problems regarding security matters.

Security of Location-Based Apps

When a company ignores this critical step, it risks being blocked from marketplaces or even receiving a penalty of €20 million if we consider a possible breach of GDPR.

Privacy concerns are the main reason users are afraid to enable geolocation on their devices or grant permission for apps to track activity. Thus:

  • Security is the priority
  • Assess third-party components
  • Encrypted communication
  • Multi-factor authentication

Step by Step Process to Make a GPS App

So, how do you build a location-based app? The below checklist describes how you should approach the development process.

  1. Study the market and find opportunities for app development
  2. Check out competitive services and come up with a unique idea of location-based app
  3. Choose a reliable software development vendor, look for the best price and quality ratio
  4. Work out the tech side of the project, decide on the functionality, choose the most suitable location-tracking technology and tech stack
  5. Create UX and UI of the geolocation software
  6. Implement all the functionality you have chosen for the app
  7. Work on data safety, consult with privacy and data protection lawyers
  8. Test and release the geolocation app
  9. Ensure ongoing development and support

Final Thoughts

We have made the following shortlist to give you the final idea of creating a location-based app that can potentially gain popularity.

Some of the comparatively vacant niches include:

  • location-based social networking apps
  • location-based discount apps
  • messaging apps based on geolocation
  • location finder apps by photo
  • IoT applications

This is a summary of an article. Check out more details and recommendations for developing a location-based app inside the complete article on the MLSDev blog.

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