In today’s mobile-dominated world, creating an app for your business is as important as the business itself. Most people prefer using mobile apps compared to websites due to their ease of use. Personalization is the norm today when it comes to great mobile apps. Around the world, app developers are focusing their energies on showcasing location and preference-specific products and information to their users to ensure that user retention is high.
Growing at a CAGR of over 27%, it is estimated that the global location-based services market will reach $61 billion by 2022 and over $150 billion by 2026. With governments now increasingly investing in location-based apps to combat the recent Coronavirus pandemic, the time is right for your app to gear up and be ready for a slice of the location-based app pie.
What is a location-based app?
Mobile phones dominate our lives today, and so much so that they have replaced entire sets of appliances in one go. From alarm clocks to watches to newspapers to recipe books to calendars, mobile phone apps can give you nearly everything you need at your fingertips.
However, with the plethora of information and products available on the internet today, users would rather use targeted and specified content and products than see an entire range. For example, users of a grocery app in Northern India might not be interested in canned fish, or South Indian food, or news from Africa.
Location-based apps use your current location or your location preferences to reduce the clutter in your feed or searches and provide you with relevant products and services.
Some examples of such apps include:
- Apps for tracking and combating the Coronavirus pandemic like TraceTogether and CoronaKavach
- Weather apps like Accuweather or Weather.com
- Newsfeeds like Google News or others
- Social Media and dating apps like Facebook, Tinder, Instagram and WhatsApp
- Travel/Tourism apps like MakeMyTrip, Via, ScoutMyTrip, Uber or Ola
- Navigation apps like Google Maps and Garmin
- On-demand home services like UrbanCompany
- Personal assistants like Siri, Google
- Gaming apps like Pokemon Go and PUBG
- Fitness tracking apps like FitBit, Google Fit, Apple Watch or Strava
- Food-related apps like Swiggy, Zomato, Tasty
And many more.
How do location-based apps work?
Location-based apps are based on geolocation. Geolocation is the geographical location of a user based on the latitude and longitude of where your mobile is. Therefore, if your mobile last updated its location to New Delhi, all the recommendations of location-based apps would be of that location. According to a recent survey by Geomarketing.com, over 90% of mobile phone users keep location services on. This means that if you create a location-based app, nearly 90 out of those 100 users are your potential clients.
These apps collect location-based data in the following ways:
GPS or Global Positioning System-based location services leverage data from satellites orbiting the earth, fetching location and time details using radio signals sent out by these satellites. Using signals from a minimum of 3 satellites, a GPS device uses trilateration to calculate your exact location. Routing, landmarks and other information can be gathered similarly by using your relative location on a map.
Using cellular networks
Towers put up by cellular (mobile) networks can provide approximate location data by applying triangulation to data gathered from multiple mobile towers. This is not as accurate as a GPS-driven location.
Many apps use a combination of GPS and Cellular location data to further fine-tune the location of a device.
IP-based location tracking uses IP information of any device connected to the internet to provide the geographical location.
Similar to GPS, WPS or WiFi Positioning System leverages active WiFi hotspot data to determine the location of a device according to signal strength.
Getting location indoors
GPS signals indoors are usually weak. Indoor positioning systems leverage the power of NFC tags, Bluetooth beacons powered by BLE and Wi-Fi access points to get your exact location – a true use case for IoT.
Technology giants Apple and Google have brought out BLE based devices called iBeacon and Eddystone that leverage the power of BLE and beacons to get signals and access to information and services in the beacon’s vicinity.
Geofencing involves capturing the user’s location when they enter a geofenced perimeter, prompting a response, such as a discount coupon or a push notification with other instructions. Geofencing is increasingly being used by companies that wish to monitor employee movement or customer movement in a particular location. Governments are using geofencing powered by BLE devices to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why create location-based apps?
Location-based apps have many advantages. Most companies use the capabilities of geolocation-based apps to provide various services to their customers. Some of the most important use cases include:
Marketing teams can leverage geolocation and gamification to target incentives and devise campaigns based on this information to open up new avenues of customer interaction. A new marketing trend is to involve users in marketing by letting them add assessments, recommendations, and rankings for products and services.
Leveraging Social networks
The dynamic nature of location-based apps leverages social network profiles to deduce out the intrinsic nature of the user. These apps help the user share their lifestyle and daily routine too, allowing others to follow influencers and enhance a brand’s fan following.
Communication and pins
Pinning service or landmark locations along with feedback helps others to decide if they wish to use this service. This also involves providing incentives for users by giving coupons or VIP status. Advertising also benefits from this by providing targeted advertisements and reaching a customer when they are “in the moment”.
Showcasing the power of AR
Using AR to super-impose physical objects based on geolocation is one capability of these apps. This was showcased in Pokémon Go, where users could point their phones at scenes and have location-based annotations.
Usage in emergencies
The government of Singapore has used the power of BLE, Geofencing, AI, the community and a location-based app called TraceTogether to combat and contain the novel Coronavirus epidemic. Emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic require monitoring of confirmed cases.
Installing the app on phones of all users helped them stay away from infection-hotspots and study the pattern of those infected, including things like breaking quarantine protocols and using public service, etc. AI helps users self-diagnose themselves and contact emergency services for testing if they are infected. A similar app has also been developed by the government of India called CoronaKavach, which works similarly.
Steps to consider while creating a location-based app
Studying the market
Possibly the most important step before thinking of creating any product would be to study the market, know your competition better and understand what your users need. This will ensure that the rest of the phases of development work seamlessly.
Deciding on in-house development vs outsourcing
This is an important aspect that you must consider before you create the app. An in-house team offers better flexibility, but also has fixed costs that rake up the final cost of your app. If you do not have a team already, you will end up splurging on IT infrastructure, team salaries and talent management. Outsourcing your app to development companies like Volumetree that already have the infrastructure and the talent in place is a better option if you do not have these things in place.
Finding the right development partner
Companies like Volumetree have a lot of experience in user research, functionality assessment, and user experience design. This gives them a distinctive edge over other low-priced alternatives as they ensure that your app is created the way your users would want it to be. A good development partner also ensures that the rest of the app development and release process is streamlined and simplified for you.
Choosing the right tech stack
Using the wrong tools in the right app is a recipe for disaster. Things might not work as intended or you might end up trying to exploit a functionality that might not be legal or available in your target region. Using the services of a good development partner like Volumetree mitigates these problems as they are aware of these challenges through experience and domain expertise.
Being focused on security
Security and privacy are major concerns while creating a location-based app. As various countries might have multiple regulations in place that can affect your app, companies like Volumetree ensure that your app is completely focused on the safety, security, and privacy of your users. The app should also be safe from data theft, data loss and ransomware attacks using multi-factor authentication, encryption and other technologies.
Testing the waters – creating a prototype
Creating a prototype is a good way to see the look and feel of the app. You also get to gather feedback for users and make important changes at the outset, rather than doing them later.
Beautification – making a good user experience
The user interface and experience of an app must be innovative, minimalistic and functional, rather than going all out and adding all the elements possible in one go. Great design always goes a long way in ensuring that users prefer your app over others.
Getting down and dirty: Developing the app
Developing the app involves coding the entire application and bringing all the elements together to create a cohesive system.
Testing the app
Testing an app is as important as thinking of creating it. A well-tested app is stable, enhances the trust of the user in the app and ensures user retention.
Showing off your new toy – release and marketing
Once testing is complete, it is time to release your app, making it available on the app stores and your website. This is a great time to indulge yourself in marketing your app well, ensuring that all your potential users know that you are now “out there”.
Location-based apps are largely considered to be “the future” of apps being created today. As companies increasingly focus their energies on relevancy and consumer location while marketing and advertising, it is important that your app considers this at the outset. Companies like Volumetree can help you by providing the talent and the vision to create location-based apps that can help your idea reach the market, fast.