Top 5 Challenges with Building a Mobile App with Geolocation

Synergo Group
Published on Jun 21, 2018 in App Development
Top 5 Challenges with Building a Mobile App with Geolocation

Geolocation is more than a trending technology: it’s an integral aspect of our technological landscape. Maps, social media, weather forecasts, on-demand services, health, and many lifestyle apps all employ it fairly crucially. For app developers, geolocation needs to be done right, especially if your app’s entire functionality is based on it.

Here are five of the most common problems developers have when building a mobile app with geolocation.

#1 Tailoring to Consumer Preferences for Privacy

Consumer privacy has become a topic of conversation in the media lately, and developers must be aware of these potential problems. In geolocation especially, privacy is tantamount.

When it comes to app development, the user is king. Time and time again, consumers have demonstrated their preference for not wanting constant location-tracking.

Some level of location-tracking is necessary for the functionality of most apps – but where does a developer draw the line?

Arguably, the app must make clear not only why it needs to employ geolocation, but must also assure the user that their information is safe.

Therefore, developers should be explicit about protecting consumer privacy. A simple, easily-accessible explanation of terms upon installing the application works, just to ease consumer worries.

If geolocation is intimately tied to the functionality of your app, and this is obvious to the user, then there will be less pushback because users will understand they are giving their location for a functional reason.

#2 Relying on a Single Method of Geolocation

It should go without saying that the more methods an app uses to find locations, the more precise it’ll be. Therefore, developers should exhaust multiple methods to make sure that their app does not rely on only one.

For example, if an app relies on solely Wi-Fi for geolocation, this would exclude a large portion of users who might be interested in your app. Despite Wi-Fi being one of the most precise means of assessing geolocation, it is not always as immediately available as mobile network.

Your app should employ several methods to collect & narrow data on geolocation. Some alternative methods include GPS, A-GPS, Cell ID, and Wi-Fi.

#3 Making Clear the Purpose of an App’s Geolocation

We already talked about how consumers generally have a preference for privacy. This also means that, if your app’s function in how it relates to geolocation is not clear, consumers might feel uncomfortable giving their information.

Naturally, this is to be expected. If your app doesn’t immediately mention its need for geolocation, and yet asks for it, consumers might be left scratching their heads. A truly well-designed app doesn’t need to outright justify its use of geolocation – instead, its functionality should make clear that it needs geolocation to function right.

If you’re making a fitness app, for example, and you suddenly start demanding geolocation, consumers have every right to be suspicious. Yet, if you’re making an app for runners that give them the best routes to run along, your consumers will understand.

It is all about how you sell your app to the user; the app’s need for geolocation must be obvious without any further explanation. If not, then you should go back to the drawing board.

#4 Trying to Do Too Much

Some developers pride themselves on making everything from scratch. That’s OK, but sometimes it can be far too costly and might not even work out in the end. You need to put your app’s development in perspective – does the app really need a novel approach to geolocation? Or does it simply need to demonstrate how to get from point A to point B?

For most app developers, the best solution is the simplest one: integrate your app with Google Maps. Google Maps already has geolocation and is easy to integrate, with its design and smart interface.

However, it all depends on what your app does exactly.

For example, if you’re just making an app that needs geolocation for basic coordinates, then Google Maps and already-existing geolocation services might be better suited for your app’s needs.

It would also be less costly for you as a developer.

There is a tendency among developers to want to “own” the work, especially with complicated technology like Geolocation. It’s important to note that knowing how to properly integrate off-the-shelf geolocation often requires an expert eye, just building it from scratch.

Focus your efforts where it matters.

#5 Using Geolocation where it’s not Necessary

One thing we’ve noticed in the last 5-10 years is a large number of apps that exploit geolocation as its main feature. If you release your app, and it has no real use beyond Google Maps with some basic extra utility, it won’t have much longevity in the market.

There used to be a time where that cut it - in the late 2000s, geolocation was hard enough to do that you could build a business just on that.

Those days are now long gone. Consumers are used to powerful and novel geolocation-oriented apps. If you want to stand out in the market, geolocation should be a secondary feature. It should be something you use only if you absolutely need it - not as a way to build pointless feature creep.

Another thing to consider is: what if you just asked the user? Often that eases a lot of friction with users, cuts down your functionality, and just makes good business sense.

Ask yourself the question: does knowing a users location really improve the utility of my app? The answer is often no.

All in all, if you avoid these basic mistakes when it comes to geolocation, your app’s development will go smoother and be more successful.

Although using geolocation might be in vogue, you want to create an app that has lasting value.

By being keen on consumer demands, and privy to their privacy concerns, developers can better adjust their developments to the growing demands of the marketplace of apps.

Contact the Synergo Group’s experts in location based mobile applications for a free consultation.

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About the author
Synergo Group
Synergo Group
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Synergo is a Canadian mobile app development company from Toronto. They produce high quality work on a regular basis and are able to adapt to any project requirements thanks to their experience on native and hybrid technologies such as Swift, Obj-C, Java and Xamarin, among many others. They have expanded internationally and opened shops all over the world: Germany, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Romania, UK and US are some of the countries where you'll find them.

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