Mobile applications with geolocation occupy top positions in various app ratings. Why are these applications so popular? This is due to the fact that geolocation allows expanding the capabilities of the app. Moreover, such apps may greatly improve user relationships. Such applications as Airbnb, Uber, and others, confirm the viability of this idea.
What is geolocation? In fact, it is a kind of technology that allows determining the user?s current geographical position.
All the mobile positioning services should adhere to the W3C standard. Its main approach to location determination is based on IP addresses. This method has a very low accuracy as the user can work through a proxy, VPN or have a dynamic IP. Nevertheless, the W3C system is the simplest and widely supported, and therefore it must be given priority over other methods of geolocation.
How to Create a Location Based App?
Each geolocation application uses Geolocation APIs for Mobile Apps. What does an API mean? Application Programming Interface is an array of standards, modules, libraries and functions that govern the synergy of apps and operating systems, web services or hardware devices.
There exist two main types of APIs that:
- determine the user?s position;
- display objects on the map.
Most of geolocation mobile applications use both types of APIs but implementing both is not necessary. To make your Android application able to determine locations, you have to configure the LocationManager. Using this service you are able to implement:
- selection of methods for determining location;
- turning the methods on and off as needed;
- setting periodicity of the data update;
- navigation to a given waypoint.
Using the built-in Google Maps access, the app can display information provided by Google. An important aspect is that maps are already integrated into the platform and not created specifically for it.
To integrate maps, using the LocationManager tools, you should configure the MapView function, which is required to display maps. The significant fact is that using MapView there is no need to require the configuration of a user interface. The tool is designed in such a way that the program automatically responds to all user?s actions.
The Location and Maps services integration to iOS apps does not differ greatly from Android. The MapKit allows integrating maps into your iOS application, while the Location and Maps service allows customizing the presentation of the users? location.
There are several ways of geolocation technology integration in a mobile app and, in this article, we strove to review the most common ones.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is the oldest and one of the most widely used technologies for location determination that is based on the obtaining and evaluating signals from geostationary satellites. What are the main principles of this method? Everything is quite simple and comprehensible. The easiest way is triangulating signals from the three nearest satellites. The device measures the time it takes for signal from each satellite to reach the receiver and, based on the collected data, determines own position. Among the advantages of using geolocation technology - GPS - notable is the high speed of data acquisition and relatively high accuracy, which can be further increased by orienting to more than basic three satellites. Some GPS chips allow getting and measuring signals from up to 20 satellites simultaneously.
This method is based on the analysis of the Wi-Fi access point's location. This technology is actively used by apps that use Android Location service or iOS Location service. Data about each access point is stored in a closed database with the consent of the user. The technology is one of the most convenient to use.
This method is similar to GPS with a difference in reference points used to triangulate the position - cellular towers. The location of each tower is fixed in the database and the geolocation of the device is determined by the location of the towers it can receive a signal from. This method is most appropriate for large cities.
Assisted GPS (A-GPS) is a specific technology that is based on increasing the GPS positioning accuracy with mobile internet/Wi-Fi and/or Cell ID positioning. Not only is it more accurate but also allows upholding the geolocation service operation when one or two of the combined carriers are unreachable.
Bluetooth Low Energy is another common way of calculating the user position. This method is based on compact beacons that transmit information via Bluetooth. It is great for closed premises or places where there is no access to the internet. An important advantage of this technology is the extremely low power consumption and high speed of operation.
Top Three Location Based Apps
There exists a large variety of apps which use geolocation integration. In fact, it is easy to reveal the most popular and used apps. To determine which apps are the most widely downloaded and used, we analyzed app store statistics and here are the best geolocation apps in our opinion.
1. Google Latitude Based On Google Maps
To use Google Latitude service, you should have Google Accounts profile. The major component of the app interface is the displayed map on which the users may see the current location of their contacts. These positions are determined by Android?s in-built positioning service, using GPS and A-GPS. Of course, Google is firmly convinced in upholding the privacy of the users. Any owner of the Android device can turn the location service down or opt against sharing their position with other people. The service has only one limitation - only users with Google Account devices can participate.
This geolocation app shows not only the current position but also tracks the passed route. You are able to connect a friend by sending them a message in any convenient way. The significant advantage is that the recipient of the message does not need to install the app. In addition to this, Glympse does not require any registration.
3. Family Locator
This program is one of the most commonly downloaded. Installing the Family Locator, the person can receive information about the location of all added family members. In order to use this application, you need to register and invite your relatives or loved ones. Once you and your family members are registered in the application, you can get information about their location and routes, which are displayed on the map.