Location-Based Services: An Overview of The Best Applications
Location-based services are growing incredibly popular these days. Such applications bring great value to the users and allow companies to target their customers in a more precise manner.
In this article, we will review the best examples of location-based services applications that have won the hearts of millions of users and became an integral part of their daily life.
What are location-based services?
Location-based services use the realtime geodata from a user’s mobile device in order to provide a corresponding service to a user. It might be a location identification, a push notification from a nearby coffee shop, or public transport monitoring. It is important to note, though, that a user has to allow an application to track and collect the GPS data - otherwise, the app developer will fall under the legal issue.
The use cases of location-based services are:
Locators of stores, restaurants, similar places,
Provision with valuable information (i.e. weather, traffic),
Fraud prevention (by linking a credit card with a user’s location).
The biggest benefit of location-based services in terms of marketing is the ability to target specific users at a precise period of time that the marketer needs. For example, when a user passes a coffee shop, he might get a push notification about a special offer or a discount that this shop offers. Such an approach helps make marketing more relevant and reach only those people that might be potentially interested in the offer.
Another great thing about location-based services is the fact that they cater to the real-time needs of the users such as the immediate need to learn about the weather, traffic, or the best possible route. This is the reason so many people use LPS applications on a daily basis.
The difference between LPS and GPS
Because some people tend to confuse LPS and GPS, we thought it would be a good idea to clarify the question and provide the definitions for both.
A GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It uses a network of orbiting satellites in order to identify the user’s location.
A location-based service, as the name implies, is a service. While GPS provides a location and actually obtains it, the LPS uses this location in order to provide a specific service.
Examples of location-based services worth paying attention to
Now that we are clear on what exactly location-based services are and what value they bring, it’s time to look at the examples of LPS applications and the ways they serve the users.
Google Maps is the most popular navigation app in the world. It allows users to monitor traffic conditions in real-time, find the best route to a stated destination, and simply navigate around the area with zero problems. With such a massive amount of data presented to a user, how does Google Maps app manage to collect and process it?
Here are the methods that the app uses for data collection:
Partnership with external providers via the Base Map Partner Program,
Taking photos with the help of vehicles and later using the GPS coordinates of the vehicles to create Google Street View,
Collection of information by satellites,
Collection of information via the users’ mobile phones (if the option is enabled).
The secret to the immense popularity of this application lies in the value that it brings to the users. Thus, if a company is thinking of developing a similar navigation app, it should first list down what kind of value it will bring and design the app correspondingly.
Foursquare City Guide
Foursquare is one of the most popular location-based applications out there. Being originally released as Foursquare, in 2014 the app was split into two different ones: Foursquare City Guide and Swarm. The City Guide app functions as the original Foursquare application and helps discover new locations while Swarm allows users to share their locations.
The City Guide app uses the device’s GPS to identify the user’s location and, based on it, provides corresponding suggestions like nearby eateries. What’s great about the app is that all the recommendations and ratings are provided by the community which makes the app reliable and trustworthy.
The more the user interacts with the City Guide, the better the app learns about the user’s preferences. Thus, it provides more accurate recommendations in the future. The application has four main sections:
Search: when a user searches for something (i.e. vegetarian restaurant), the app will provide an automatic suggestion. As well, a user can search for a specific place anywhere on the map and not necessarily within a nearby area.
Lists: this section contains featured places that are loved by the majority of users. This feature is useful when you want to discover a new place with a high ranking.
History: here a user can see the information about the past visits.
Me: this section summarizes the user’s recent activity such as the recent visits, tips, and taken photos.
As for the Swarm app, it allows users to check in to the places and plan the visits together with the friends who also use Swarm.
Uber is probably the most popular ride-sharing application that inspired hundreds of businesses alike. The app consists of two parts: Uber for Drivers and Uber for Passengers and has different functionality, correspondingly.
However, the app’s mode of operation remains the same for both parties: it identifies the user’s location (either the driver’s or the passenger’s) and, based on it, calculates the rate. As well, the application plans a route for the driver and serves as an accurate navigator.
There are a few valid reasons for Uber’s popularity: low price, increased convenience of use, and high quality of service. And since Uber now operates in about 65 countries, it keeps expanding its services in order to make it more enjoyable for both the riders and the drivers.
Last but not least - a very smart location-based application called Glympse. It allows users to share their location and estimated time arrival in real-time and it does not require the location recipients to download the application.
Glympse uses the GPS of a user’s device to determine the location and calculate how much time it will take to get from the user’s current location to the destination point. A great thing about the app - it offers partnership to businesses (such as grocery delivery) in addition to serving regular users. As a result, businesses are able to deliver a better customer experience and minimize customer rescheduling and cancellations.
Location-based services are a high-potential niche due to the growing demand for such applications. However, it is important to conduct a thorough market research and identify the key value that the app will bring to the users. Because location-based applications can be quite complex in terms of development, it is important to outline and prioritize their features to avoid loss of time and resources in the future.