Global Location-based Services Market was valued at $11,994 million and is expected to reach $61,897 million by 2022, supported by a CAGR 26.6%. In this article, we find out why location based app development is climbing the pinnacle of popularity. Also, take a look at what it takes to develop a location based app.
Location based app development is the talk of the town. The last decade has seen cosmic growth in these geolocation applications. Pokemon Go, Foursquare, Google Maps, Uber, TripAdvisor, etc saw a staggering success and are enough to prove how geolocation app builder can take a business to new heights.
For ex: Pokemon Go - It was one of the most used and profitable mobile apps in 2016 and has crossed 1 billion downloads worldwide as of February 2019. It has 147 million monthly active users as of May 2018 and as of December 2018, the game has grossed over $3 billion in worldwide revenue.
So, what is Geo-location and how do these apps access the data?
When was the last time you asked a stranger for directions? I’m sure you don’t remember. This is because nowadays one just has to enter the destination on their phone in order to find a location. This everyday task leverages geolocation.
Geolocation is the geographical location i.e. the longitudinal and latitudinal location of a mobile that has an active internet connection. So, if your device last had access to the internet in a small cafe in San Jose, your location is that cafe in San Jose.
According to Geomarketing.com, 90 percent of US mobile users keep location services turned on. So, if you decide to create a location based app, 90/100 smartphone users will be your potential clients.
So, how does this work?
Location based data can be collected in two ways :
 GPS or Cellular networks or a combo of both
GPS - Smartphones are equipped with in-built GPS. GPS captures the location and the timing that is sent via satellites from space. At any point in time, there are at least 4 satellites visible to the GPS-enabled device. The GPS device receives radio signals from three satellites in sight in order to calculate the distance between the satellites and the device. Then via trilateration process, it calculates the exact location.
Once the location is known, the GPS can determine routes and other location-specific information.
Cellular Network - Another way is cellular network based tracking. Any network provider has more than hundreds of radio base stations called cells. These cells make up the cellular network. Mobile phones are connected to the network using cells. Using multiple cell towers and the triangulation method, a device can calculate the location..
 IP based location tracking
Everyone who is connected to the internet has a unique identifier against it called an IP address. So, in order to determine the location, the IP range is checked w.r.t the location using an IP-to-location database.
Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) utilizes the characteristics of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and other wireless access points to discover where a device is located. This is done in two ways :
RSSI - measuring signal strength from a client device to several different access points, and then combining this information with a propagation model to determine the distance between the client device and the access points. It is only accurate for a median of 2-4m.
Fingerprinting - Records the signal strength from several access points in range and stores this information in a database along with the known coordinates of the client device in an offline phase. During the online tracking phase, the current RSSI vector at an unknown location is compared to those stored in the fingerprint and the closest match is returned as the estimated user location.
 Indoor Positioning System
GPS doesn’t work well inside buildings, so, in order to locate people and objects indoors, IPS is used. QR Codes / NFC tags, Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, Ultra Wide-Band, Infrared-based indoor localization systems, Wi-Fi Access Points, etc are few of the technologies that are used for IPS.
Now that we know how geolocation works, we’ll move on to the next critical part of app development, i.e. market research.
So, you have an idea for a location based services app and you don’t know where to start? If I were you, I would start by exploring the market to see if at all the app idea is viable or not.
Start with evaluating your competitors. See who are the big players in your niche and run a thorough RnD on the apps they have, the features, no. of downloads, etc to find a trend. This will also help you understand the features that are in demand and you can incorporate them in your app too.
Also, get an idea of how your competitors are generating revenue. Based on the market research you do, you can make better decisions about design, development, marketing and revenue generation.
****** Location based services apps have huge potential. So, give your custom app idea a good thought, run the idea in the market and decide on its features before approaching a location based app development company.
The location based apps that one can create :
 City guide app
Where did I park my car?
Where is the nearest gas station?
Is there an ATM here somewhere?
An app will answer all these questions and many more. The app will find the user’s location and with the help of google maps, give a local spin on each destination. This is beneficial for both locals as well as tourists.
Some things to keep in mind :
Your city guide app must be multilingual, so that, international tourists that don’t speak English can also discover the city and its attractions.
It should support both online and offline modes. This is very important because the tourists who are on international roaming would not want to exhaust their data when they don’t find wifi somewhere.
***** Add augmented reality to display the same information about the city but dynamically. This can add a value point for your app.
 Indoor location tracking for hospitals
Finding the way inside a hospital for anyone can be daunting. Let’s all agree the inside of any hospital looks like a maze. This creates frustration for patients and their family members. An indoor navigation app for the hospitals can help direct patients or visitors to the right place in an instant.
A few additional features along with geolocation that your app can have :
Automatic booking and check in
 Weather apps
Everyone has heard the line “If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait five minutes.” If your end users reside in Chicago or Denver, they know how unpredictable weather gets around there. So, weather apps are a must for them.
Apart from the general weather forecasts, add in other features like predicting weather changes with a per minute accuracy, trends in the weather over a period of time, a tornado or hurricane tracker etc. Add a smart notification alert based on the current weather forecast so that it keeps your app users updated about any weather fluctuations.
For developing a weather app, you need to get the weather data from somewhere. There are ample available APIs, you just have to choose the one that serves your purpose.
This is the era of being self-conscious and every other day someone decides to download an app and start tracking their fitness. The first thing that you have to keep in mind in order to excel in this category is personalization. Fitness tracking and recommendations will be highly dependant on individual user’s height, weight, age, and gender.
The app must have the following features :
 Setting goals w.r.t individual users
 Tracking the fitness exercises
 Recommending other exercises
 Customized Diet Plans
 Sleep tracking
 Wearable Device Integration
Another feature that can make your fitness app shine is gamification. Track your user’s progress and award them with badges as and when they reach a milestone. Also, design challenges that your users can compete against others and get their adrenaline pumped.
These are just a few location based app ideas. You can also create location based apps like on-demand apps (Uber), social apps (Snapchat), IoT apps, interactive games, etc.
Few things to keep in mind while developing a location based app :
 Tech Stack
For your geolocation app’s proper working, you will need two APIs - one that would fetch the user’s location and another to put those coordinates on a map. For the first part, one can use Google Maps API to locate and Google Maps SDK or Apple MapKit to display the location. This is for iOS.
For Android, use Google Location Services API for locating the user’s location and Google Maps API to display that location.
Aso, Google Places API, Foursquare API, Yelp API, etc can be used if your app needs additional features.
Statista says, the number of location-based service users in the United States increased to 242 million in 2018 from 123 million in 2013. But, also, 60% of the users are not very eager to share their location? But, the location based services wouldn’t work unless the app users turn their GPS on.
Keep in mind to never ask for permission when the app launches for the first time. Ask for permission when they first access a location-based feature.
Also, transparency is a must. Make sure you make the purpose behind the permission very clear. Users generally agree to provide permissions when they know the reason behind it.
 Reduction in battery drain
Higher the accuracy, the higher the battery drain. The location needs to be computed less frequently and the location data needs to be delivered quickly. This way the battery drain of the user’s mobile can be reduced when they access the app.
How much does it cost to create geolocation applications?
The cost will largely depend on the kind of geolocational app that you create and the features that you want in the app. It also depends on whether you hire in-house developers or you outsource your app development.
Say, you outsource the app development :
For simple applications with only map integration - $5k-$7k
For application with medium complexity, say an on-demand app or a weather app - $8K - $20K
For highly complex geolocation apps, like IoT based trackers or AR-based games, your cost will be higher than $20K.
If you decide to hire in-house developers, the cost will be much higher.