How to Build a Location-Based App

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Having experience in developing many location-based apps, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to build a geolocation app.

Nowadays, the trend of the location-based app has become a considerable part of the mobile app market. More and more, companies integrate location-based services. From ride-hailing app like Uber to social media apps like Facebook or Instagram, all of them use location-based development!

These location-based apps have changed millions of peoples’ lives. The ability to integrate location tracking has brought more comfortable daily experiences for customers as well as a new level of marketing strategies.

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As of 2018, the location-based app market size was valued at $23.74 billion. And it will reach up to $157.34 billion by 2026. Along with this growth, the demand for location-based services apps will increase too.

Due to this fact, many industries basically couldn’t exist without this technology! Geolocation apps have opened the door for new startup ideas for every business.

In order to help you understand more, we’ ll outline how to create a location-based app, the key features of geo applications and step by step to build a navigation app.

Finally, we will share our experience in many location-based apps! So, start reading!

The benefits of location-based services:

Social interaction – Users can find out the location of their friends, family members, and other users.

Source of information – Google Maps provides the nearest place or the best route to a destination.

Communication – They also allow users to pin a location, leave feedback as well as update photos and videos.

Better targeted ads – Location-based marketing can target more customers.

Experience with augmented reality – Pokémon Go is a great fit for augmented reality location-based app.

8 Great Examples of Location-Based Apps

  1. Maps and navigation: Google Maps
  2. On-demand service: Uber, Grab
  3. Augmented reality and games: Pokemon Go
  4. Travel apps: TripAdvisor, Booking
  5. GPS app for weather forecasting: Yahoo weather
  6. E-commerce: eBay, Amazon
  7. Dating app: Tinder
  8. Finding services: Yelp and Foursquare

Location-based App Technologies

Each geolocation app development can connect with satellites through the mobile device’s operating system.

Next, by collecting data in real-time, the app will receive a moving object or person.

How the software outsourcing company will decide how to create a location-based app depends on features.

Outdoor Technology


All mobile devices have a built-in GPS module. GPS uses the information about location and timing that satellites send from the space.


  • Determine a current location quickly
  • High accuracy of GPS about 60 feet


  • Reduce battery life fast
  • Influence of atmospheric conditions

Cell ID

For some reason GPS can’t access, you can use another approach: cell towers. Relying on the radio signals of the operator, the smartphone will know where the owner is located.


  • The locating technique is a great choice for large cities.
  • Geolocation function can available even without a GPS signal.


  • But in return, this approach has low position accuracy (several hundred meters).


In location-based app development, Wi-fi works in two ways: using RSSI or Google Maps. For instance, by comparing the cellular data with Wi-Fi points, the RSSI (Receive a Signal Strength Indication) is applied.

When it comes to Google Maps, the profile of frequently visited locations within Wi-Fi access identifies the location of the user.


  • Drains battery slower than GPS.
  • The user’s location can determine quickly with nearby Wi-fi spots.


  • Covering a lower area due to the maximum range of Wi-fi access, compared to GPS.

Indoor Technology


Geofencing is location-based advertising. With GPS geolocations, cell ID, and Wi-fi, it determines the time at which a person enters the specified virtual perimeter.

For example, when you come to somewhere that approached, a push notification will send to your phone. Then you can receive a push notification about coupons or discounts of a restaurant nearby.

As a result, this kind of geo-based development becomes quite popular nowadays.


  • Detailed information about the location: how geographically close, inside or outside, what time they entered, etc.
  • The geofencing coverage range is up to 500 meters.
  • A lot of business opportunities including marketing and connection with clients.


  • High power consumption.
  • Limited range (minimum 100-150 meters).

iBeacon and Eddystone

Depending on the platform, Beacon’s technology will be different. iBeacon API was built by Apple, support iOS. Another format by Google, Eddystone, can be used both on Android and iOS devices.

These two types of technologies rely on small wireless transmitters and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).  If you want to know how to create a location-based app for accurate indoor navigation, iBeacon/ Eddystone will be worth it.

A great example of this kind of unique app is Revisor, built by the MLSDev team. This app allows users to experience historical events by showing relevant AR content when users visit the locations of the most well-known battles of the American Civil War.


  • High detection accuracy
  • Ability to work without the Internet.


  • A small coverage radius.

How to Build a Location-Based App?

Explore the Opportunities in the Market

First, clarify the type of app you want to build based on one of the above-listed geolocation app use cases. Or come up with a unique new one.

You should take time on research. Talk to some potential users, and define the existing market leaders as well as their failed projects.

Let’s find your unique idea to benefit your users and set you apart from the competitors also.

Choose the Location Tracking Technology

Secondly, decide on must-have features, suitable geolocation technology, and the tech stack.

For iOS:

  • The native MapKit, provided by Apple.
  • For another popular framework, you can consider like HERE or OpenStreetMap.

For Android:

If you don’t want to use traditional GPS technology, you can consider WiFi, cellular, or Beacons.

Additionally, when creating a geo-location base app, it should be fast and reliable.

Geofencing can bring customers from parking to the market. But it is much accurate when determining the precise geolocation.

While beacons determine the client’s location with greater accuracy indoors. For example, iBeacons will provide more accurate navigation inside the house.

Security is Priority

From the beginning of the development, you need to put data safety first. As data-heavy of location-based apps, make sure to comply with the local regulations in every country that you want to target.

Find a Reliable Partner

Hiring a software outsourcing company is the most time-consuming to develop an app that uses location-based.

So, how to choose the tech partner?

Define your exact goals such as product concept, estimate time, size of team you want to hire, etc

Shortlist potential service providers like their portfolio, location, positive vs. negative reviews

Evaluate your prospects: Background check -> Client references -> Capabilities of an IT outsourcing company -> Work process -> IT quality standard

Finally, you’ve known how to build a location-based app. Geolocation apps can help you improve customers’ experience as well as deliver the information in the right place and at the right time.

Not only solving problems from outdoor to indoor tracking, but the geo-based app also helps your marketing strategy.