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Location-Based Application Development: The Ultimate Guide


Location-based apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook make our everyday life more exciting and comfortable. These days, we can order food with a smartphone and follow the courier’s route to our home or office. Also, such solutions allow knowing the delivery time.

A bunch of services like Tinder and Airbnb use geolocation as a primary feature. So, the question arises — how to develop a location-based mobile app?

In this guide, we’ll cover all the issues — from the necessary technologies to the required tech stack.

Ways to Use Geolocation Services

Geolocation stands for the geographical data about your device’s location. There can be Android or iOS-based smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, tablets, or any device with a GPS chip or connected to Wi-Fi (like IoT devices).

These are the primary ways geolocation is used:

  • Users share their location with their family and friends (sharing location in iMessages)
  • Apps measure the distance between objects (Google Maps shows you the nearest McDonald’s cafe)
  • Apps offer the fastest route to your destination (Google Maps suggests several ways to your destination)

Which apps use geolocation technology?

  • Location trackers (Waze, Glympse, Google Maps)
  • Social networks, messengers (Facebook, WhatsApp)
  • Dating apps (Tinder, OkCupid)
  • Fitness apps with GPS route tracking (Nike Running Club, MyFitnessPal)
  • On-demand delivery apps (Uber, UberEats, Zomato)
  • Travel apps (Expedia, TripAdvisor, Booking)
  • Weather apps (Yahoo Weather, Weather by Apple)
  • Photo location finder apps (Google Photos, Explorest)

Also read: If Location Intelligence is the answer; does it matter what the question is?

Location-Based Technologies

How to develop a location-based app? Take two components – geo detecting services (indoor or outdoor) and maps.

Let’s figure out the details.

Outdoor Geolocation Services

  • GPS. These days every mobile phone has an in-built GPS module. How does it work? GPS gets signals from the satellite that are highly precise and don’t need the Internet connection.
  • Cell ID. If GPS is unavailable, it’s possible to locate the device by the cell towers. However, this solution isn’t very precise.
  • Wi-Fi positioning. This solution collects information from the Internet and shows the location quite precisely.

Indoor Geolocation Services

How to track the device inside the building? There are several ways:

  • Geofencing stands for a location-based technique that works with a combination of GPS, cellular, and Wi-Fi data. How does it work? When a mobile device enters a virtual boundary, a pre-programmed action is triggered.
  • iBeacon and Eddystone. iBeacon was developed by Apple, and Eddystone is one of Google’s services. Both iBeacon and Eddystone use BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) for indoor positioning.

Steps to Develop a Location-Based Application

How to make a geolocation app for iOS, Android, or web?

We’ve singled out four main steps for you to follow.

Step #1. Conduct Market Research

Doing market research, you need to decide what type of app you want to develop. You have to figure out how your tech solution helps users and which problems it solves.

Also, it’s required to study the existing solutions in the market (your competitors). You should look through their features carefully to understand what makes them popular.

Step #2. Cooperate with a Reliable Tech Partner

While choosing a software development partner, you have to consider previous projects and the vendor’s expertise with the required technologies. Mind that your app should have an outstanding design. So, it’s a good idea to hire developers and designers from one company.

Also, you can go to platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms and study the reviews that are revised by the platform’s administrations, so there’s little chance they are fake.

Step #3. Consider the Tech Side     

Developing a mobile app requires deciding on the must-have features, choosing the most suitable geolocation technologies, and the tech stack.

To give you a hint, there are some tools for location-based app development:

Web

iOS

  • Google Maps API
  • Core Location API
  • Google Maps SDK
  • Apple MapKit

Android

  • Google Location Services API
  • Google Maps API
  • Google Maps Directions API

Step #4. Check Out Security Matters

Security issues become a top priority during location-based app development.

How to make a GPS app secure:

  • Use multi-factor authentication, making it much harder to compromise accounts.
  • Encrypt communications and use an SSL certificate, Network Security Configuration (Android), or App Transport Security (iOS).
  • Don’t store sensitive data on user devices or encrypt it with algorithms like AES-256 or RSA.

As you can see, location-based app development is time-consuming and requires a lot of preparation. To reach success, you should cooperate with a reliable software development vendor. Also, consider the security issues since privacy allows gaining users’ trust and loyalty.

Also read: Using location intelligence for safer driving experiences

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