Location-Based App for Android and iOS – All You Need to Know
From Uber to Postmates and Foursquares to Airbnb—location-based apps are everywhere.
As users’ dependency increases on their smart devices, these apps come quite handy in facilitating many day-to-day activities and interactions.
Hence, for businesses, they are an effective tool to offer customers delightful experiences that not only strengthen their brand-customer relationships but also fuel long-term growth.
In this article, we’ll explore geolocation mobile apps for Android and iOS in-depth along with their tools, technologies, benefits, and uses for different industry verticals.
Location Tracking Apps and Market Insights
Location tracking in mobile apps is the functionality that helps identify the location of a device, detect the movement of its user, and evaluate its distance from one place to another in real-time.
Many industries and services rely on geolocation apps to bridge the gap between the business and its users. For example, delivery services identify the customer’s location through GPS tracking in order to deliver their order. Meanwhile, the customer uses it to track the real-time location of the delivery person.
Given the widespread use of this technology, the location-based services (LBS) and real-time location system (RTLS) market is projected[i] to be worth $48.5 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 19.4%. The increasing use of 5G, expansion of social media, and rising demands for LBS and RTLS platforms are among the major factors behind this exponential growth.
Technologies for Geolocation Functionality
Geolocation mobile apps use several technologies for tracking the location and positioning of a device to provide accurate results. Listed below are some of them.
GPS Module: GPS stands for Global Positioning System which is a satellite navigation technology that provides geolocation data and time within a particular distance.
Geofencing: Geofence is a virtual boundary that enables the app to trigger a pre-programmed response when a device enters or leaves a particular area.
Cell ID: Cell ID is a unique number assigned to every device for location identification. It can operate on the data from cell towers and doesn’t necessarily need live data or WiFi connection.
Geolocation for IoT: IoT devices gather signals from device sensors to identify the location coordinates which are then used for route tracking.
iBeacon: iBeacon is a protocol by Apple Inc. that uses Bluetooth low energy proximity sensors to transmit data from beacons to the app over short distances.
Tools to Build Location-Based Apps
Besides the technologies mentioned above, building a geolocation app also requires some third-party tools and applications. Here are some geolocation tools for effective location and coordinate tracking –
Maps are integral to location identification. And one of the most popular maps platforms is Google Maps. It combines Maps, Routes, and Places APIs together to streamline the integration of geolocation solutions.
- Maps API: The Maps API enables the addition of interactive maps to your application with custom graphic content and embedded panoramic view.
- Routes API: The Routes API provides directions, routes, and road data like traffic, speed limits, departure and arrival time depending on your preferred mode of transportation.
- Places API: The Places API allows users to obtain the geographical address and time zone of a location using phone numbers and photo locations.
TomTom is a navigation app that offers great features for driving. Its APIs generate up-to-date information for traffic-dependent routing, search positioning, and map visualization.
- Maps API: The Maps API shows raster and vector maps that the user can choose from, for the required level of detail in the map.
- Search API: The Search API uses pinpoint geocoding and provides location data based on search queries.
- Directions API: The Directions API displays routes for vehicles with real-time traffic information and optimizes the order of the waypoints for the shortest route.
- Traffic API: The Traffic API offers improved location data by merging real-time and well-known traffic data.
How to Create Location-Based Mobile Apps
The geolocation technology in mobile apps works differently in different operating systems. Let’s take a look at the inner workings of both iOS and Android location tracking.
Location Tracking in iOS
iOS has powerful APIs that track user locations and work with maps. But before accessing the user location data, you need to declare location permission in Info.plist file and add the privacy properties. The user can see the value of these properties on the permission alert view.
Core Location[ii] framework is another class to obtain the geographical location, orientation, and altitude of the device. The authorization status of the app determines its access to the location data. There are two types of authorization the app can request –
When In Use
When the app is running in the foreground or in the background with the location usage indicator enabled, it can access all location services and recent events.
The app can access all location services and recent events even when the user is not aware that it is running. In case it’s actually not running, the system will launch the app and deliver the event.
After importing the core location framework and assigning the delegate property to the respective class, it’s necessary to adhere to a set of rules for accessing the location updates of the user.
Location Tracking in Android
Android has Location APIs that help track the device location and display it in the app. There are two ways of Android location tracking –
- android.location.LocationListener (part of Android API)
- com.google.android.gms.location.LocationListener (part of Google Play Services API)
Adding Location Permissions in manifest.xml
To access the location data, you need to add location permissions to the project.
Implementing LocationCallback Class for Receiving Notifications
- onLocationResult(LocationResult locationResult): Called when the location has changed.
- onLocationAvailability(LocationAvailability availability): Called to check if the GPS/Network provider is returning the location callbacks.
Using LocationCallback Interface with Step-by-Step Guidelines
Step 4: (To Stop Location Updates)
Benefits of Location-Based Apps for Businesses
Location-based mobile apps have a ton of benefits that open doors for new growth opportunities. Here are a few of them-
More Data Gathering
By collecting location-based data of your users, you can better understand how customer preferences differ location-wise, why certain retail stores get more traffic, and which areas have the potential for business expansion.
Provide Personalized Offers
Location-based mobile apps facilitate geotargeting that helps deliver appropriate messaging to users, per their locality and behavior. With its help, you can easily create tailored offers for users that attract their interests and have higher chances of conversion.
Effective Customer Service
The ability to track user location helps you understand their expectations and queries better and provide them with effective support and resolutions. This also enhances customer engagement and builds better brand-customer relationships.
Narrow location targeting allows you to better appeal to your target audience via specialized offers and gain new customers. It also helps you increase your brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Uses and Examples of Location-Based Mobile Apps
Owing to the growing customer expectations, location-based mobile apps have become vital for businesses to provide excellent services. In fact, many businesses can’t even operate without them. Let’s understand their uses for different industries and businesses-
Geolocation in mobile apps is actively used to deliver products and services to consumers’ doorstep. It lets you track your order status in real-time and know its estimated time of arrival. Example- Instacart, Uber Eats, and Postmates.
One of the most important uses of location-based mobile apps is transportation services. You can easily book a taxi from one location to another, check the vehicle’s real-time location, and trip time. Example- Uber, inDriver, Lyft.
Travel and Hospitality Services
Travel apps use geolocation to offer guided tours to users. They suggest optimal routes and provide information about various tourist destinations, nearest hotels and resorts, popular sights and shopping centers to visit. Example- TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Expedia.
Local and Utility Services
Location-based mobile apps allow local businesses and services to target their audiences effectively. With their help, you can easily learn about a sale in a nearby store, get on-demand domestic services like fuel, laundry, car-washing, and house cleaning. Example- Rinse, Handy, Wype.
Geolocation apps help in community building by allowing users to create and share local content. They help people connect on social endeavors, political initiatives, dating, and general meetups. Example- Nextdoor, Localmind, Bumble.
Healthcare and Emergency Services
Healthcare and emergency services detect users’ location through geolocation apps to provide them with prompt services. They use your location details to optimize the medical help suggestion, give you timely safety alerts, and provide local relief center information. Example- Calmerry, First Aid, FEMA.
As you have probably inferred by now, location-based mobile app development is a smart idea for your business. It enables you to provide your customers with the best possible user experience, support your daily operations, and target new prospects to achieve higher business success.
To learn more about location-based mobile apps for Android and iOS, feel free to drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.