Location-based app development: help your users never get lost

Location-based app development

Geolocation app development has become so common we barely even notice it. If you were born in the 1980s or earlier, you might remember the times when everyone had to drive around with a map or clear directions and hope for the best. Nowadays, GPS technology has made things much more manageable. 

Location based app development enables us to deliver services to customers with laser accuracy (according to Topflight Apps experience). You can make a geolocation app that: 

  • Enables ride-sharing or food delivery to a customer’s home address or location
  • Helps visitors navigate their way through a smart building
  • Powers VR games like Pokémon Go
  • Helps customers find their way around a specific tourist area
  • Maps walking routes through their city

And a lot more! 

How does geolocation app development work

You can probably guess why someone would want to make a location-based map app, but have you ever thought about how they would make it? These days there are several ways you can find your way around, but it always starts with a map.

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For outdoor tracking, which you’ll use for apps like ride-sharing or food delivery, you’ll probably use Google Maps and GPS satellite communications. GPS is great, but it can’t track your location indoors because it’s not super accurate. GPS is usually off by a few meters, which doesn’t matter if you are looking for someone’s house or a well-known landmark. However, when you are in a building, this inaccuracy means that you might not be able to find a room or stairwell. 

GPS isn’t very accurate indoors for another reason: the satellite signals usually can’t penetrate the walls of a building, and it definitely can’t track you as you move into a basement parking or move between levels. 

To track someone’s location indoors, e.g., for indoor wayfinding purposes, like sending a visitor to the correct room or facility, you need to use a combination of Bluetooth or WiFi sensors, a digital map of the area, and a mobile SDK with tracking technology that works with cell phone signals. 

Digital mapping is reasonably easy – you can use the architectural drawings that every building has to create your map. Bluetooth sensors are cheap to buy and easy to install, or if you really want to get fancy, you can use smart lighting in your building. Bluetooth picks up your phone and creates a blue dot, like Google Maps, to pinpoint your location so you can make your way through the building. 

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Indoor mapping is mainly used in malls and hospitals at this stage, but it’s becoming more common. You can also make a GPS-based app that connects to an existing indoor location app to help visitors transition from outdoors to indoors. 

But if you want to specialize in outdoor travel, make an Android app that uses GPS instead. It’s pretty inexpensive and doesn’t require any sensors – most companies just integrate with Google Maps, which is extremely comprehensive and easy to integrate with. 

Choosing the right development team

So, how do you find the right team to build your GPS-based app? You could hire a team of your own, but finding various developers with the proper skill set is going to be difficult and extremely time-consuming. 

The easiest and most cost-effective way of sourcing a team with the right experience and expertise is to outsource. That way, you can access a complete team of developers in a much shorter time frame. 

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The team will help you with the following:

  • Conceptualize and map the app you’d like to build
  • Provide advice about the right operating system and technology to use and integrate with
  • Build an MVP product to test with selected users from your intended target market
  • Make improvements and iterations accordingly to user feedback
  • Build a prototype
  • Build the final product
  • Launching the app to the relevant app stores 
  • Maintaining the app and bug fixing
  • Rolling out updates and new features over time

Make sure that all of the requirements and costs are laid bare in a detailed scope of work document and contract. 

Now that you know a little more about geolocation app development, you are ready to start building your own app! Remember to do your research carefully. Success is all about picking the right technology and the right people for the job. To learn more about the factors to consider when developing a GPS application, please read this blog.