Guide to Location-Based Application Development

In today’s technological era, the word “app” has become a buzzword, and everyone is likely using several on their device as you read this. Geolocation apps are the subset of apps forming a significant niche among mobile applications. The geolocation trend is now a core part of developing custom software with a new geolocation app being released every day.

According to Global Location-based services, the market is expected to reach $61,897 million by 2022. Taking into account the smartphone penetration rate, app development using geolocation could expose your business to around 200 million potential users in the US alone. 

The increasing usage of smartphones and growing acceptance of Geolocation supplements the growth of global-based app development. Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Pokemon Go, Uber, etc saw a lurching success and are enough to prove how geolocation applications can take a business to the next level.

To guide you through your journey on Location-based application development, we have compiled a list of geolocation apps and the things to consider before developing a location-based app. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!

Which apps use geolocation technology?

It is hard to search for an app that doesn’t use geolocation technology; from default apps like Find My iPhone or Uber to Yelp or Instagram. Mostly every messenger app offers the functionality to share your location right within the chat. Even the pictures stored in your camera roll are neatly managed by the location and date on which they were taken.

So, here are some popular industries that use geolocation technology, with an example:


Every hotel booking app has a map view. They help to find a hotel nearest your location or the ones close to a specific site is very convenient. Popular apps like Airbnb, Booking, or Chain hotel applications like Marriott provide geolocation capabilities. 

This functionality proves to be even more essential for last-minute hotel booking apps such as Recharge or Byhours.

On-demand services

On-demand applications make extensive use of GPS capabilities like delivery services. Uber is one of the most popular transportation apps which relies on the users’ location to pair passengers with nearby drivers and take a ride. It allows users to find a taxi, book a ride, track the arrival time, and monitor their estimated duration of travel in real-time.

Location-based applications help individuals find local businesses nearby and obtain the required services. This principle is at the heart of apps like Bonshine and FixitJoe, which were developed by Easter Peak.

Social media and dating app

As we all know, social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat also offer a map view and allow you to use geotags on your posts and stories so you can see the people nearby and connect with them based on your location. Dating apps also use geolocation technology to connect users. 


There is one more cross-industry use case for applications that offers geolocation capabilities, and that is within the IoT sector. Wearable devices and fitness trackers or custom tags can be used to track a users’ location. For instance, apps for running/ cycling paired with smartwatches, family safety, and pet care apps use special tags. You can also keep an eye on your luggage using LugLoc which is a GPS-enabled device.

Some other Location-based apps are divided into several groups including:

  1. Maps and navigation
  2. eCommerce
  3. Fitness apps
  4. Geosocial applications
  5. Health applications
  6. Location apps to notify of dangerous situations
  7. Augmented reality (AR) and games
  8. GPS apps for weather forecasting
  9. Finding services, recommendations, and discounts
  10. Location-based apps to enhance business

Location-Based Technologies

Outdoor Geolocation Technologies

Outdoor positioning technologies help users with positioning themselves and show accurate routes. It is based on GPS signals and satellite imagery. Here are some popular technologies for outdoor positioning system which includes:

Global Positioning System

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a very popular location-based technology that demonstrates locations using satellite signals. Thanks to smartphone technology to have built-in GPS in our mobile devices. Every mobile device is equipped with the geolocation feature and receives signals from at least three satellites simultaneously. 

GPS technology uses magnetometers and gyroscope sensors incorporated in smartphones to provide directions and routing options to users. It helps to determine the location at high speed and the receivers mostly have high accuracy under good conditions. So, it is easy to determine the altitude above sea level in some location-based applications.

A minimum of 4 satellites out of 30+ around the planet, is always accessible by GPS-enabled devices which are socially designed to receive radio signals that are continuously sent out by these satellites. And out of the 4, only 3 satellites receive signals in their vicinity to track out the distance.

Cellular Network

Let’s say if a GPS signal is not available, the location is determined by cell towers close to the phone. A smartphone knows the cellular network it is connected to. The received coordinate of the mobile station makes it possible to identify the location of the mobile device and its owner.

A cellular network is a mobile network enabled by a service provider. There are thousands of radio base stations, which are termed cell towers and set up by the provider company to enable cellular network-based tracking.

Once your mobile is connected to cell towers, your device can easily figure out the location where three cells form a base transceiver station and connect the dots that need to be done here.

Wifi positioning

Like GPS, WPS stands for Wifi positioning system which gathers information from the Internet and shows the location quite precisely. It leverages our beloved mode of staying connected and works with high density in urban areas. It uses the nearby WiFi hotspots and other access points to identify the geolocation of a device based on signal strength.

Indoor Geolocation Technologies

The global positioning system is not at its 100% inside buildings and closed locations, so, Indoor Positioning System comes into play.

Here are some popular technologies for indoor positioning system which includes:


Geofencing is a location-based technology that is gaining a massive amount of popularity every year. It works by combining cellular data with GPS data and preset actions that are triggered when a mobile-enabled device enters a defined network radius.

Geolocation app development is successfully and actively used in various mobile applications with GPS, but it is less accurate when you need to see your current location. This can be a static action based on a users’ position relative to a location or peer-to-peer based on a users’ relative position. It offers various opportunities to improve a business strategy such as monitoring remote employees, customer loyalty programs, implementation of notification systems, and much more.

Apple’s iBeacon and Google’s Eddystone

Both these technologies work in a similar way using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) which enables indoor positioning. It allows iOS and Android devices with special apps to receive signals from beacons. These signals are the identifiers that trigger actions when any device is in the range and receive them. Then, the user received location-based information and services which is proximity marketing according to businesses. 

Things to Consider Before Developing Location-based App

Know the market

Before you create a location-based app, make sure to identify your competitors and know the market. You can hire a professional agency or either do it by yourself. It is worth every penny. You can interact with some potential users and know the existing market leaders. It helps you to understand your users, their problems, and how your app can solve their problems. If you are not investing enough time in research, you may create a product that customers are not interested in.

So, explore the existing app, its weaknesses, and strengths which will give you ideas on how to enhance the capabilities, functionalities, and improve the user experience.

Find a reliable tech partner

It is important to choose the tech partner wisely, so look for the best quality-price ratio and focus on the vendor’s experience.

Start with checking the company’s recent projects and portfolios. If you’re planning to outsource the app development process then choose the right tech partner. Make sure to consider some aspects before contacting them such as: Do they work with location based apps earlier? Does the company have enough experience? Their recent clients? etc.

When hiring an app development company, it is better to get both development and UI design services from the same company as it makes coordination easy and saves time.

Tech stack

Mainly every location-based application relies on the default Google Maps SDK. For creating any location-based app, you’ll require two APIs, one for gathering information about the users’ location and the other for implementing the collected information and generating coordinates on the map. 

On iOS, you can make use of the native MapKit, provided by Apple. And if you don’t want to rely on traditional GPS technology, then you can use WiFi, Beacons, or cellular networks to identify a users’ location. 

It is important to choose the tech stack wisely while developing a location-based mobile app on the must-have geolocation features and find the most suitable geolocation technologies.

Deal with security matters

Security is the main factor to consider for location-based apps, so you need to work hard on security matters. There are several features to make your app secure such as SSL, encryption with algorithms, multi-factor authentication, etc. So, make sure to explore each of them before developing an app.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the importance of developing a geolocation application, you’re all set to implement it right away to improve interaction with your potential customers and deliver the information.

We hope you find this article helpful and you understand the concept of location based app development better. These apps have helped people transform their lies and when implemented correctly, you can easily attract customers.

Author: GISuser

GISuser, founded by Spatial Media (2003), is the leading online technology, news resource for GIS and mapping professionals

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