You wake up in the morning, check your Facebook feed, and see a post from your friend made somewhere on the Spanish coast. You are envious and open the weather forecast app. It already knows your location and disappoints you with a rain alert for the day. You decide to take an Uber to work, and the car arrives exactly at your front door, even though you didn’t even enter your address. You decide to go out for lunch, and Yelp recommends several restaurants within a 5-minute walk of your office. That evening, you decide to order some Chinese food. And, yet again, the carrier delivers it right to your front door.
Magic? No, that’s just the power of location-based apps.
And this is something you need to consider for your next successful software solution. Now, the point is to generate a viable idea capable of competing with existing services.
In this article, we have collected the best ideas along with successful examples of how well-known companies implemented these ideas in real apps. Get ready for the torrent of inspiration for your geolocation featured app.
Location-based apps: Before we start …
Let’s make things clear: A location-based app is a software product that collects data about users’ current location. This type of apps allows businesses to offer customized services based on where the user currently is or where he is going. Location details are typically transferred via:
- GPS, or Global Positioning System
GPS is a global system consisting of satellites and small receivers built into every modern smartphone or tablet. The system can accurately calculate the location of a receiver/smartphone by measuring signals from multiple Earth-orbit satellites to determine a relatively accurate location. GPS doesn’t require any connection to a mobile network or the Internet, and it can be used to find a device’s location even if someone is far beyond the reach of cell towers.
- Cell ID
This approach to determining a device’s location requires a connection to a mobile network. Using signals from several nearby cell towers, a device can, depending on the quality of the signal, calculate the distance to each tower and determine a user’s approximate location. This process is commonly called triangulation since the signals of the three nearest towers allow a device to estimate its most exact location.
Wi-Fi can also be helpful in determining a device’s location, especially when cellular service is turned off (when traveling abroad, for example, some users opt to turn off their mobile connections to avoid extremely expensive roaming charges). Using the Wi-Fi point the phone is currently connected to, the device can locate itself.
Now, when you have a basic background in geolocation technologies, let our journey through the galaxy of the best location-based apps continue.
15 viable ideas for a powerful location-based app
It’s more and more trendy and rewarding for businesses to break into any industry with a location-based solution. Analyzing the current situation in the market and forecasts for the next years, we’ve made this list of the 17 best ideas for location-based apps.
- Navigation and mapping apps
Navigation apps are the hottest type to consider. How many times have you been worried about being lost in an unfamiliar city or place? How many times have you been worried about intense traffic and jams holding you up on your way to an important meeting? Yeah, we’ve all been there. And most likely, we’ve used specific software to predict potential obstacles.
Google Maps, a location-based app built by Google, occupies the noble 1st position in the list of navigation and mapping apps. With more than 154.4 million unique users in the US, it is the absolute best example of successful geolocation applications. Waze, an app for route details and travel time calculation, follows Google’s lead.
Maps.me is another popular mapping and navigation service worldwide. Travelers prefer this app because it even works offline. Using GPS coordinates, the app locates you on the map and provides users with step-by-step navigation to any location.
Along with outdoor navigation, apps for indoor navigation are blooming. Purple app helps patients of Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Allina Health hospital to navigate through the medical institution effortlessly. Mapsted is another example of a successful indoor navigation app. It primarily targets large malls; however, it may work in any building making the life of its visitors easier.
Indoor navigation apps may come in handy for large hotels or resorts, university campuses and hospitals, malls and business centers, city councils, etc. Does a local business need a navigation upgrade? Consider this idea as the basis for your next software product!
- Location tracking and safety apps
Most iPhones and Android devices have built-in location tracking features. Smartphone owners can quickly find it if the device is lost or stolen. But it’s required to have GPS turned on.
Trustworthy apps are now powered with geolocation functionality to immediately detect suspicious activity and protect user data from leakage. For example, once you try to login to your Gmail account from a new country, the application sends you a security alert. Depending on what device you try to log in, you either get a smartphone notification or an email to confirm that it’s you (or hurry up to change your password if it’s not). It’s all about data protection.
In the case of your family’s safety, specific feature-rich solutions are needed. For example, a family can install one app and connect all members’ devices just to know each other’s location if needed.
Another typical but important case is to always be aware of your child’s location. One of the location-based services examples is the FootPrints app — with its help, parents can track children's whereabouts in real-time. Following the Internet of Things principles, you even can set up geofencing using this app. A user sets up boundaries on a map and gets a notification once this boundary is crossed.
Industry leaders continue to work on location-aware tools, too. We are looking forward to Microsoft releasing its Microsoft Family Safety app. Team Microsoft is creating this location-based app “to protect your loved ones online.” It is expected to highlight many amazing features, and maybe its functionality will inspire you in the next step of your business development.
- Check-in and reviews apps
Now, people actively use Facebook to let their network know where they had a fantastic cup of coffee or where they ate the worst pasta of their lives. Seems like it is a part of a ritual — to share your location and opinions with your social network. It is hard to believe, but Facebook wasn’t the pioneer here; before the feature was implemented on the greatest social network ever, it was launched by Foursquare. The story started with a check-in feature: a user manually entered, for example, a bar’s name and shared this location with the network. Later, when GPS technology became an irreplaceable feature of every smartphone, Foursquare started using it to provide the exact location and automate manual actions.
Apps like this allow for check-in features and to share reviews and recommendations as well as finding interesting places nearby while keeping a record of places users have visited. Fifty million monthly Foursquare users are enough reason to add check-in and recommendation apps to our list of ideas.
- Banking apps
Sharing your location with your bank sounds like something new and unusual. However, it creates numerous advantages for both financial institutions and clients. Revolut mobile app utilizes geolocation so one user could transfer money to another who’s somewhere nearby.
A mobile-only bank Monobank allows tipping waiters or taxi drivers contactless, and turned on geolocation is essential to make this possible.
Besides, geolocation may serve numerous marketing purposes:
- Once a client enters a bank, a mobile app can send a greeting and assign a number in a queue.
- It may help to offer a more personalized experience by analyzing a user’s daily location and more.
Has another idea just come to your mind? Let us know about it and we’ll bring it to life together!
- eCommerce location-based apps
Customers love the principle of “order, pick up and go.” That means they order needed goods online and come to the physical store or warehouse just to pick it and leave. No crowds, no lines, no need to wait for delivery — just a fast and easy way to get what they want or need. A location-based app is essential to collect data about the user’s current location and let him or her pick up the order from the nearest store. The method works well in apps like Curbside, a.k.a. Rakuten Ready.
However, two scenarios are possible:
- Like Curbside, you can cooperate with a variety of brands and offer pick up services,
- Or you can represent your own brand, let users order your products, and pick them up from your nearest physical store.
With geolocation, it’s easier than ever to track customer habits. You can find out which shops they prefer and where and when they walk. By recognizing these patterns in behavior, you can target users with personalized offers. This allows you not to waste your marketing on reaching those who aren’t interested in your product.
- Advertising apps
If you don’t have your own eCommerce business, you can still shake the local market with a location-based services app. You can advertise local brands and provide users with suggestions about the closest places they may be interested in. No need to install many different apps — a single tool may include significant info about popular shops and restaurants in users’ neighborhoods.
GeoCouponsAlert, for example, reminds users about active coupons for nearby locations. The Zomato app highlights the best restaurants, cafés, and bars in the user’s neighborhood. An app demonstrates reviews, comments, and ratings. Unlike Zomato, you can advertise different brands and sell their products on your app but focus on a particular region with your geolocation app.
- Shipping and delivery apps
On-demand apps have saved lives during global isolation in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. DoorDash, NetPincer, UberEats, and many similar services play significant roles in providing users with everything they need during a pandemic. By reaching customers by cars, bikes, or even drones, they fulfill a great mission worldwide.
However, such market-leading apps are still unavailable in many regions. For many cities and even countries, a new location-based delivery app may become vital. An app to simplify tasks for local businesses and provide consumers with convenience, or an app to support global social distancing and provide consumers with the essentials could be life-saving. Analyze your local market and evaluate if there is a similar offer. If there’s not, you have just found your path to success.
- Uber-like apps
On his Twitter, Erik Torenberg, a co-founder of Villageglobal — a venture capital firm — shares valuable tips on idea generation. One of the frameworks he describes says, “Unlock new supply using a fixed physical asset or new digital asset … (as) Uber unlocked new supply of taxis.”
Uber is one of the most famous and prosperous unicorns of our time. And we cannot help but add this great example to our list.
Uber has inspired a revolution in taxi services, enabling anyone with a car to earn money by giving others a lift. But Uber’s customers also appreciate one improvement over traditional cab services — the Uber application can automatically determine where you currently are and send your driver to your exact location. The resulting savings in time and frustration are what have made Uber so popular among users worldwide.
Still, it is not available in many countries. Besides, ride-sharing services are not the only thing your app can provide on-demand. Recently, we worked on Toddy – an Uber-like app for finding the best babysitters nearby. Using the same method, you can offer a solution for finding local plumbers, engineers, contractors, etc.
- Weather apps
Detailed, up-to-the-minute weather forecast apps become even more useful if they are aware of the user’s exact location. This enables more accurate predictions and the opportunity to track any tiny change in weather conditions, which is significant if you’ve ever doubted whether you should take that umbrella or not.
ApexWeather is one of the most popular location-based weather apps. Providing detailed forecasts based on the person's current location, it found its place on more than 50 million users’ smartphones.
- Dating apps
Not only do common interests bring people together, but sometimes location does, too.
A location-based app is a way for people to find friends who share their hobbies. You can help people find romantic partners or companions with an app for geosocial activity as well. For instance, based on a user’s location, Tinder, an online dating application, provides photos of users nearby and helps people meet in person.
- Fitness and healthcare apps
This year is surely doing its best to demonstrate how important proper healthcare, physical activity, and hygiene is. Keeping an eye on your health and staying in good shape is a must; with a location-based healthcare application, it gets even easier.
Running and cycling apps with geolocation features are the most powerful in this category. An app that detects a user’s location and tracks passed distance can also easily calculate burnt calories and (even!) build a plan for further development. Such features help Strava, a running and cycling app, engage more than 42 million users! The company even claims to add one million new users every 45 days. The chain is ready: useful app — great results — accelerated growth.
- Apps for travelers
You may have noticed some of the traveling apps above: Google Maps, Accuweather, and similar apps may come in handy when planning your next trip. However, there’s so much more opportunity within this field. Location-based solutions can deal with so many routine tasks that we’ve decided to gather them in an extra block.
- Public transport tracking apps
No matter if you are traveling to another city or your office, the awareness of where your bus is and when it can pick you up is valuable. Applications like Citymapper provide advanced functionality for this purpose using geolocation data.
- Hospitality apps
Airbnb has rocked the industry. Since two enthusiasts solved the problem of where to stay when your budget is tight, classic hotels have lost much money. Now, you can enjoy a location-based feature on Airbnb: The service offers you the best stays and experiences nearby.
- Apps with local services
When on a road trip, it is necessary to know for sure where the next gas station, or supermarket, or the nearest public restroom is. Let travelers feel calm and comfortable with your app, and win their preference in turn.
- Social networks and messengers
Users that aren’t really fond of dozens of apps installed on their smart devices will appreciate the “all-in-one” app or a powerful social network with geolocation features.
On messengers, geolocation is vital — just two clicks and you can send your current location to a friend and find each other easily in a crowd.
Going deeper into this topic, you can develop many other similar concepts, such as:
- Build a location-based professional network to empower professional connections and local communities.
- Allow archaeologists to share the information about their recent excavation and discoveries in special communities.
- Help fishermen share the best spots, participate in online fishing tournaments, and so on.
- Create a tool to help photographers find and share breathtaking locations.
Speaking about photographers, you can build another handy tool for them …
- Event apps
Everyone would appreciate an opportunity to get detailed info about events nearby. Location-based technologies will be helpful as users look for an interesting last-minute event to attend. Whether it be an exhibition or a loud party — build an app capable of satisfying any needs.
To start, implement geolocation, notifications, integration with the user’s calendar, and thoroughly analyze the user’s interests. Check Eventbrite to find out how it works and build something more useful and satisfying.
- AR apps and games
Imagine combining Augmented Reality, a trend that has changed eCommerce, with geolocation functionality. For example, SkyView, an AR-powered app with geolocation functionality, helps users get to know our universe better and identify celestial objects.
Does the gaming, AR, and location-based combination seem familiar? That’s right, we are talking about Pokémon Go and other similar games. This new type of entertainment only became possible due to geolocation services. Millions of people were suddenly enthralled with a game set in the streets of their hometown. This smartphone game has gone viral in 2016, leveraging AR technologies and popularizing physical activity. It has won numerous awards and made hundreds of millions of children and teenagers worldwide get up and off their couches. However, there are some technical issues and government restrictions; besides, the app is unavailable in numerous countries.
There is always a place for another catchy game. Use the viable existing concept, work on upgrading it, adapt for local market demands, and launch a profitable app.
Location-aware apps and privacy concerns
Location data is big money. And some of the most popular apps use it actively as an additional revenue stream. As investigations report, over 1,000 apps track users’ locations without asking for permission. Many of them sell this information to data monetization companies, typically for marketing and advertising purposes.
AccuWeather, an app with 2 billion users, was accused of selling personal data. This app has full access to GPS coordinates, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth data and shared it with data monetization companies. This was the blatant violation of users’ rights. Responding to the privacy concerns, the AccuWeather app removed SDK, which made data leakage possible, and released a new app’s version.
And that’s not the only case. The Weather Channel app obtained user location data illegally and sold it to third-party companies. DarkSky Team tells how many times someone offered them to sell users’ personal information.
“We don’t now — and never will — share your location data with 3rd party advertisers or data monetization companies,” says the company.
And that’s how you, as a future app founder, should act, too.
According to the report, 31% of smartphone users want to have complete privacy and don’t trust apps with access to personal information. For location-based apps, it is a huge obstacle. People don’t feel quite safe, so you, as a potential app owner, should prove your app’s reliability. Always remember to ask for the user's permission when turning geolocation on. Follow best practices for data protection and say no when someone offers you money in exchange for users’ data.
Location-based apps: price and cost
When a new concept is born, two crucial questions may come to your mind:
- How long will it take to build a high-quality app?
- How to develop a location-based app in the right way?
It is hard to answer these questions as the answers depend completely on your requirements and solution complexity. Fortunately, we can answer them in detail.
Geolocation is not a magic pill that will double your sales or provide you with thousands of new customers. But when used effectively, geolocation services can improve user experience and customer loyalty. In 2020, location-aware apps have huge potential and impact. And the earlier you’ll start working on your idea, the earlier you’ll measure its progress. So start right now.
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