We continue the series of interesting blog posts written by industry experts, including marketers, analysts, developers and other professionals.

Today, applications for social media, health, and on-demand services have all changed the way we use our phones and interact. In 2021, it was reported that 230 billion mobile apps were downloaded. That’s nearly three times the population of the entire planet!

Geolocation is one of the main drivers of mobile application software growth. You may not fully understand what geolocation is, but you are likely implementing it with your smartphone apps every day.

Whether for travel, messaging, ordering food, or taxis, geolocation has accelerated innovation.

What is geolocation for mobile apps?

Geolocation involves the tracking of a computer, smartphone, or tablet. The location of these devices is relayed via one or more location-based technologies. These technologies need to be connected to the internet, satellites, or some electronic device as a point of reference.

Why use geolocation for mobile software applications?

A recent study by the LBMA found that 95% of global organizations are already using location-based services to gain the following benefits:

Better Marketing. Location data lets you send personalized marketing messages to your user base. You can also target mobile advertising and promotions based on where a user is located.

Better UX. Geolocation makes filling out forms and tagging locations seamless for users. This can also help users quickly find people and places they are looking for within your app. Geolocation also allows for an efficient process for on-demand services like taxi-hailing.

More functionality. You can add specific app features that are location-based, such as finding users or services “near me” or adding navigation. You can build games and virtual tours with augmented reality (AR) that help your app stand out.

More informed decisions. You can analyze and test metrics based on location to better inform decision-making.

More customization. You can give your users personalized experiences based on location.

Fraud and privacy prevention. Location data can act as a first line of defense against unauthorized account use.

What location-based technologies are available for developers?

Mobile application software developers have a range of technologies for implementing geolocation.


GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Just about anyone who’s driven a car or used a smartphone has heard of GPS. Every smart device has built-in GPS capabilities.

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GPS uses satellites to triangulate a device’s location. No internet or network connection is necessary. The tech is highly precise, with accuracy within 16 ft (4.9m). However, GPS is susceptible to weather and the conditions of the external environment.

GPS can drain batteries with vampiric efficiency. As such, GPS should normally only be in-app use and not background-type geolocations.

IP Address

Every internet-connected device has its own unique identifier; an IP address. Beside identification, companies can learn a lot more about a visitor based on geographic information. To get the most out of this, you will need to enlist the services of a geolocation dataset provider like IPinfo.io. The provider’s API gives you access to a wealth of information and valuable insights about traffic to your website. You can use this data to improve the experience of your customers through personalization, such as local currency or location-relevant sign-up forms.

Cellular ID

Modern mobile networks use the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) protocol, and as such, every device that connects to a network is given a unique identifier. This identifier, which is called a Cell ID (CID), is bounced back and forth between the nearest cell towers. This data can be used by smartphone apps to determine the location of the user.

CID is a good option for big cities with lots of cell towers. CID technology is not as location-accurate (100-200m) as GPS but will leave plenty of battery juice for power and light smartphone users alike.

Assisted GPS

A-GPS stands for assisted or augmented GPS. A-GPS combines GPS and CID technologies. This gives a high level of accuracy for rapid and reliable location data.

Areas like tunnels, dense forests, and even thick-walled buildings will have less effect on location accuracy. This tech will also optimize battery use and save power compared to GPS-only. This option can also incur greater startup and maintenance costs as data will need to be consumed and re-synchronized on occasion.

Bluetooth low energy

BLE, or Bluetooth low energy, was first developed in 2006 by Nokia as a solution for indoor positioning. It uses the same 2.4ghz frequency as other Bluetooth technologies. Today the two most common BLE techs used are the iBeacon API for Apple devices and Eddystone for the Android Platform.

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Like cloud ERP vs traditional ERP, GPS is efficiently “in the cloud” while BLE uses on-premise beacons to receive BLE signals. Upon reception, functions like push notifications can be triggered. In 2021, some healthcare applications used this technology for contact tracing because it isn't taxing on battery life.  

The accuracy is very high with BLE, but it isn’t useful in outdoor settings and related app functionalities that don’t involve receiver beacons.

The use cases for mobile application software with geolocation

Geolocation opens up a nearly limitless world of possibilities for mobile apps developers and users. Alternatively, using IP data will have similar use cases, but with the added benefit of user privacy. Some of the most popular use cases include:

Maps and navigation

Google Maps is the king of geolocation apps when it comes to maps and navigation. Users can find almost anywhere they need to get to and find out where, how, and when in a matter of seconds.

Social platforms

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter use geolocation to enhance the user experience with recommendations and relevant offers.

Food delivery

Mobile apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and Postmates make the process of food delivery quick and painless. Users can track the progress of their food from ordering to their doorstep.

On-demand services

Uber, Lyft, Tidy, Handy, and other apps allow for users to quickly book cabs, house cleaners, handyman services, among other things. Geolocation makes finding a service timely and efficient.

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Travel and booking apps

Booking.com, Hotels.com, Tripadvisor, and Airbnb are just a few of the mobile apps available today that make it easy for travelers to stay organized or fly by the seat of their pants. Location data shows relevant offers and attractions.

Health and fitness

Fitness apps like Strava and Peloton let users track activities such as running and cycling. They can even share their activity statistics online and map their paths for others to see and/or follow. Government institutions like the UK’s NHS use geolocation data for contact-tracing purposes.

Gaming Apps

Geolocation and IP data can help enhance the experience for online gaming tech. This can range from localizing servers for lower latency to improved fraud prevention and abuse reporting.


IP data providers like IPinfo can help expand the capabilities of any ecommerce business. For example, with IP datasets, localization of currency, location, language, and pricing are automatic. This also includes calculating accurate shipping and taxes on every order. IPinfo can also detect visitors with slow ISPs which lets you minify your website and optimize page loading times.

How to develop mobile application software with geolocation

All mobile app development should follow the same steps.

Do your research

You might be waiting for an “aha” moment like an apple falling out of a tree. Resting on your laurels won’t generate a good idea. Instead, you and your team need to take action and explore the mobile application market.

Study the most successful and popular apps and think about how you could improve them with geolocation. Or look at location-based apps and discover what they have missing.

Next, research your targeted markets and think about features that give them what they want. Read app reviews and other sources of user feedback to find gaps in the market where the competition is lacking.

Visualize and wireframe

Before any development begins,you want to envision the entire look and feel of the app. What aesthetic and experience do you want to give users? An ugly and convoluted UI will have users heading for the exit page. A simple but bold and clean interface is often what works best.

Get some paper and a whiteboard out, get everyone on a call, and storyboard everything out. Build wireframes for each menu, feature, and trigger event. Work with your marketing and design team to find a happy medium of beauty and usability.

Build an MVP

With mobile application software development, every good idea and concept should be explored. But don’t over-invest like a speculator on Wall Street. Work with your team to build a minimum viable product (MVP) and use that as your proof of concept.

Consider trying different geolocation techs to see what fits best with your app. Test software vigorously until you are happy to proceed with full-on development.

Commit to your tech

By now, you should have a clear understanding of your target user base and what tech works best for your use case. So it’s time to pick location solution(s) that fit your budget and build your AAA mobile app on their foundations.

Some of these solutions include:

IPinfo Geolocation Data- an API that gives the ability to pinpoint your user’s locations and customize experiences via rich datasets. It’s easy to use and secured with 256-bit SSL data encryption. You can test data on product pages for optimization and there is a free version that comes with 50,000 lookups.  

Google Maps API - the most well-known and used service for geolocation. All Google services for maps, routes, and planning are integrated into one platform. This system is pay-per-use with a minimum recurring payment of $200 monthly.

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MapBox - the main alternative to Google Maps. Service partners include Facebook, CNN, and Shopify. Their APIs are very versatile for outdoor and indoor geolocations. The service is free for up to 25k users and 50k map loads. After that, prices go to $4 per thousand users/downloads.

Open Street - a specialized API for optimization of navigation and logistics. Their tools are highly customizable, but you will need to get a quote.

TomTom - a well-known service provider for maps and route planning. The included search API comes with Foursquare functionality of the location of businesses. You get 2500 free transactions per month. After that, pricing depends on which services you employ.

Build your app

Now is where you will create a feature-rich app with a beautiful UI. You have a great idea, so don’t sit around waiting for the competition to beat you to the finish line. Instead, make a project road map with a test plan and divide work into several sprints.

Communicate and collaborate effectively with each team member to make sure everyone stays on track. And allow for enough schedule flexibility to handle unforeseen issues. Also, make sure there is a suitable window for you QA engineers or mobile application testing services to deal with bugs.

For instance, Global App Testing provides localized QA coverage for both web and mobile apps. That makes it easy and speedy to test your apps in localized settings around the world using real devices and real users. What better way to ensure that your geolocation features work as planned and that nobody suffers unwanted bugs?

Remember, it’s all about the end-user. If your mobile application software fails at launch, it will be difficult and costly to recover.

Location, location, location

These days, mobile users are conditioned to the enhanced experience and features that are built upon geolocation. Almost any industry can implement location technology in some way.

Geopositioning can breathe new life into your existing apps or drive new ideas. The sky is the limit. It's up to you and your team to figure out how to get there. If only there were an app to help you plan the best route?

This blog post is written by Kate Priestman. Kate is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy — driving business impact at its best. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.