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3 Ways to Map out Your Business within Location-Based Apps

26 Dec 2016
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Do you still hold apps as a set of a few options? You'd better don't. Being complex systems that can gather information, analyze the data, and render smart decisions on their basis, mobile apps serve a great engine for any business. Different technical processes lie at the heart of their activities. One of them is location-based technology and many apps make a heavy use of it. Let's find out what exactly it's about and which business areas you can use location-based mobile apps in.

Businesses that realize the value of having mobile apps with location-based features have many options to achieve it using diverse techniques and approaches. Let's consider three of them: Beacons, WiFi, and GPS to see in what situations they work best.

In reality, there are much more of such techniques, but we will consider those that are typically used in the development of mobile applications.

GPS location tracking technology

Currently, this is the most common way of determining the outdoor location of the device. This is accomplished with the help of GPS satellites which are connected with a mobile phone or tablet once the relevant option is turned on.

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To get more ideas about geolocation integration, check our article: Always be orientated with the integration of geolocation into your app

GPS tracking rests upon the triangulation concept. This is a geometric principle that calculates the distance to the object basing on the coordinates of another object that are already known. In particular, for determining the mobile phone location with the help of GPS, it is necessary to deploy at least three satellites. The device connects to each of them during a certain period of time. Basing on the satellites: points of location and the call down time, it is possible to calculate a certain location of the device.

GPS location: triangulation

GPS location works under the principle of triangulation

Advantages of GPS navigation

The main advantage of GPS technology is its accuracy. The greatest error of modern GPS-receivers in the horizontal plane is about 6-8 meters. Also, you can define the position data nearly anywhere in the world.

Disadvantages of GPS navigation

GPS is quite useless in a closed space where a device cannot connect with the satellites. Also, it kills the battery rather quickly. When GPS works permanently, your phone will not run longer than two-three hours.

Use cases:

  • Navigation apps
  • Shipping and delivery apps
  • Family security apps

WiFi Another location-based tracking technology

To use WiFi as a tool to determine the location, it is necessary to know where a particular WiFi network is disposed. Both Google and Apple are widely using GPS to gather such information.

The process is quite simple: the enabled GPS on a mobile device points out to its location, the enabled WiFi indicates an active WiFi network that brings service to this device. Thus, you can determine a particular WiFi network location data. When another user appears in its range of action, you will be aware of his or her whereabouts even if the GPS is turned off.

You might come up with the conclusion that such approach runs contrary to safety. Exactly for this reason, the big names of a mobile market came across the problems when they were submitted to the court by unhappy users who did not like that their location was being tracked.

Both Google and Apple confirmed that their smartphones collect data about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers. They are stored in a special database. The devices refer to it when it's necessary to establish the location. Both companies insist that the acquisition of information is carried out on an anonymous basis.

The problem was resolved by asking users whether they agree to take part in the anonymous data collection.

Notification for location data usage permission

Google asks permission to gather information about the device location

Advantages of WiFi positioning system

This technology is more economical in consuming the device battery. Also, you can adjust indoor positioning system using WiFi. The coverage of WiFi is constantly increasing. It has a positive effect on the accuracy of the data received.

Disadvantages of WiFi positioning system

The coordinates obtained via WiFi are still less accurate than the ones gathered by GPS technology. There are places where WiFi networks are not available at all. That is why it is impossible to use the technology anytime anywhere.

Use cases:

  • Indoor positioning (shopping malls, office buildings, etc.)
  • Hospital or university logistics
  • Transportation hub (airport, railways station navigation)

Beacons indoor location-based information

Broadly defined, a beacon is a visible and relatively chip device made to attract attention to certain locations. Beacon is a non-connectable device. It just broadcasts signals in a specific format via Bluetooth. When a signal is detected, the system recognizes what kind of Beacon it is. If the beacon has information about where it is installed, the system can pass this information to the application.

Principles of beacon technology functionality

The principle of a beacon app functionality

There are various communication protocols used for beacons broadcasting. The most popular ones are Apple's iBeacon and Googles Eddystone.

IBeacon is a native iOS protocol. Even though it is supported by other operating systems, it works the best way in a native iOS environment. In simple words, the iBeacons operating principle may be described as follows: each device has a unique code composed of the set of numbers and letters. If the application is aware of this exactly iBeacon, it will trigger a certain action once it comes across it, e.g., send a push-notification or connect to a server.

Eddystone has a broader functionality. It offers three types of protocols: UID, URL, and TLM. UID is pretty similar to the iBeacon technology. URL broadcasts the URLs that are natively understood by Android and can be opened in Chrome. TLM broadcasts the distant-measuring data about the status of the beacon and the sensors attached.

Advantages of beacon technology

In some cases, a mobile app can recognize a beacon without the Internet connection via the Bluetooth. Thus, it is a great solution for the applications that intend to work in an offline mode. Also, the app is designed to see the exact kind of beacons and hears them without a delay as soon as it approaches a certain distance to the device.

Disadvantages of beacon technology

The beacons cover by no means all the Earth's surface. If you develop a mobile location app that works solely on interacting with beacons, you should ensure that you have the devices in a given territory.

Use cases:

  • Indoor navigation
  • Client-based solutions (Retail, Food service, etc)

Let's sum up the location-based services we have reviewed.

Comparison: GPS vs WiFi vs Beacon positioning

Comparison of location-based services

How location-based technologies can fuel businesses

Location-based technology serves as a background for implementing various features in different kinds of apps. A broad scope of use extends to such business activities as healthcare, entertainment, communication, transportation, etc. Let's have a look at the most popular areas of using geolocation.

Location-based shopping apps

The retail vendors enable geolocation to improve client servicing and enhance the quality of user experience. Here are a few examples of a successful appliance.

Barneys New York, a top-class retail chain, uses beacon technology to notify a consumer about the products saved in his or her shopping cart once he or she approaches it in a real shop. The content of notifications includes product description, ratings, reviews, reminders, etc.

Waitrose, a big grocery chain, designed an app that indicates the location of the customer who needs help at this very moment. Thanks to it, the consultant may quickly find the client in a supermarket and provide the necessary information about a particular product.

Woolworths, a popular Australian chain of supermarkets, implemented the click and collect feature. It allows users to choose the products online and pick them up at a convenient time. The staff members serve out the order in the nearest supermarket that is defined by means of GPS coordinates provided by company's location-based software. Once the user moves closer to the collection point, he or she receives a relevant reminder.

Transportation

Location-based technology is irreplaceable for the apps that help find the right way while driving, track the status of a parcel upon the road, or choose a suitable route of a public transport.

Wayfindr is a revolutionary app that uses beacon technology to help vision impaired and blind people navigate through the world under their own steam. In the London Underground, the users can effortlessly pick up the right train or find a correct exit using just a smartphone.

Deliveries Package Tracker integrates with different providers such as Amazon, DHL, UPS and allows users to track both domestic and international shipping statuses.

Tourism

Geolocation apps help travelers discover the nearby ham joints and places of interest on an unfamiliar territory.

Foursquare is a well-known app for detecting surrounding objects. With its help, you can easily find good snack bars and restaurants, shops and supermarkets, clubs and museums, etc.

WikiTude is a great sights guide. In addition to GPS navigation, it provides historical information about a selected place as soon as you turn the phone to the particular landmark. This effect is achieved by means of technology of augmented reality.

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Augmented reality is widely used in different spheres of human activity. Learn how to Boost your Business with the Help of AR

My Tracks allows you to monitor optimal pedestrian and vehicular routes. You can record and share the distances you've walked, the roads you've driven, and the hilltops you've covered.

Sport

A healthy lifestyle is currently trending. People all over the world do different kinds of workout activities and want to control their sports results.

Nike+ Running motivates to new challenges by tracking the speed and distance as you run. You can adjust goals, follow-up progress, and share achievements with the friends.

Sporting app with location and distance tracking feature

Nike+Running app displays the distance run

Extreme Sports App shows the nearest locations where you can do an extreme sport whether you are fond of snowboard, wakeboard, skate, or surf.

Location-based social media apps and location-based dating apps

Social media, dating and chat apps - all these mobile branches benefit from mobile location services providing customers with the extra features and opportunities.

Facebook, a world-known location-based social app, allows users to tag the exact location of the photos published in the app.

Tinder, a global dating app, uses GPS to perform a location-based search for the singles in your region.

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Except for the location-based services, dating apps use many other tricks and techniques. Discover What Stands Behind the Success of the Best Dating Apps 

Viber, a popular location-based messaging app, provides an optional feature to show or not the user's location while chatting.

Games

In conclusion, I cannot fail to mention location-based gaming apps that are at their height today. The biggest advantage is that the users have to physically move rather than constantly sit with their phones when playing.

Pokmon GO needs no introductions. This game has absorbed thousands of users and its popularity is increasing day by day.

Ingress is another popular game of Niantic. Adopting unrealistic elements to your actual location, it makes you feel like a participant of a fantastic adventure.

Why you need location-based services in your app

As you can see, location-based services are present in almost all types of mobile applications. Modern users are quite accustomed to them. That is why, when you develop a mobile app and think whether it's worth to include geolocation or not, you better do. Competition in the market of mobile technologies is so strong that the lack of location recognition will force users to question your competence.

With the advent of diverse techniques to detect users position, appear fresh ideas as for app development. If you have one, feel free to share it with our managers. They will guide you through the approximate cost of app creation and introduce to professionals who specialize in iOS and Android development.

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