How to Build a GPS App? Tips and Best Practices

Marlena Walburg

Can you imagine traveling with a map instead of a navigation app? Well, it is not a distant past, and probably many people still use the traditional method. However, GPS apps have revolutionized and made getting around much more accessible. It is even much more – we use geolocation when tracking our food deliveries from a restaurant or an incoming Uber driver. You may be wondering how to build a GPS or location-based app. After all, it is one of the more vital trends today. For the rest, the location is one feature that may have a less obvious use at first glance. If you think about it more, you will notice that even dating apps like Tinder are geolocation-based. Often, this feature is a little tucked away, so obvious that we do not realize it is a location feature after all. Hence, it is a standard functionality of many applications. Take a look at the GPS app development characteristics, advantages and other intriguing facts that may help you in creating your own project.  

Geolocation Apps – market overview

Certainly, no one will be surprised that the most popular navigation application is Google Maps. Currently, the app is used by over a billion users every month. It is undoubtedly the leader in this segment. The availability of applications with GPS means that more consumers download them and use them while traveling. It is also a source of information and recommendations for places of interest, shops, restaurants, museums and more. You can also find reviews about them in many of these apps to help you choose. Considering that nearly 80% of users have a navigation app on their smartphone, this could be profitable.

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic and the global lockdown contributed to increased demand for location-based applications. Although closed at home, we reached for numerous on-demand applications using GPS, and new, promising startups emerged. Also, even after the pandemic has passed, habits will not change, and users will need location-based solutions. It means that it is actually a good time to invest in such an application.

How to create a location-based app?

Usually, it starts with an idea for an application. Once it appears in your head, you need to think about the specifics – the purpose of the application, the problem it will solve, how, the needs of users and your business, and business goals. In addition, it is essential to list all the functions that the application should have and prioritize them. You can do this stage of product discovery yourself, but it is worth working with your development team. With experienced specialists, you will be sure that you will not miss anything. An excellent approach to start developing an application is to build an MVP with basic but necessary functions. 

Then you will move on to the UX / UI design phase. Ensuring the impeccable look and feel of the application is crucial. Designers will certainly take care of every detail that gives users an extraordinary experience. After accepting all designs, developers start programming work. According to the selected tools and technological stack, your application will be created. There are different approaches for application development; at BinarApps, we use agile methodologies, selecting a dedicated team of experts for the project. We also take care of QA at every stage of development. After coding and thoroughly testing the app, it can go to the publishing phase in app stores. It takes a bit of work, optimization, creating promotional materials until the app is approved. Of course, many development teams offer application maintenance after implementation. Your GPS application will be constantly monitored, updated, and repaired as necessary.

What are the key features of a navigation app?

The foundation – geolocation, and navigation

The primary function of the GPS app is, of course, the map. The map uses the GPS to provide the location of objects, as well as the user. The user can also create routes to destinations, and the application will select the most optimal of them.

Voice navigation

Your app should have the option to turn on voice guidance. It is handy for allowing the driver to concentrate on driving without looking at the map all the time. A nice addition will be the ability to choose a specific voice from available in the app. Consider recording direction tips by someone well-known to attract users to your product.


A great option is to add alerts that send real-time updates about events, traffic jams, accidents. When users receive up-to-date information on traffic situations, they have the chance to change their route and reach their destination without unexpected events and without significantly lengthening the way.

Route redirection

A good GPS application must react quickly to traffic events, driver’s mistakes or traffic jams and change the route as soon as possible. While on their way, the drivers must have a new course calculated quickly and not get distracted. 

Registration and authorization

The ability to register and create a user account is a fundamental element of almost every application. It helps to save relevant information and increases the personalization of the app. Also, take care of authorization tools; you can offer users to log in via social media accounts. It additionally expands the possibilities of sharing recommendations with friends. Besides, it increases security.

Benefits of developing GPS-based apps

  • Access to information – first of all, the user has easy access not only to basic location information but also the fastest route to the destination, proposals for attractive places, opinions. It is often the only section where you can find reviews of a place written by people who have already been there. It can help find items or determine the whereabouts of a loved one who will provide us with such data. There are many ways to use your location to facilitate your daily activities.
  • Extending the possibilities of the app – GPS applications can help search for some social groups in a given area, events in a given place, and finding friends. It is also the basis of dating applications that show the location in which we can search for potential partners.
  • Engagement and interactivity – including geolocation, users can tag photos or videos taken at a specific location. They can also build their own maps of the places they visited and share their recommendations. It makes engagement and keeps users longer.
  • Data acquisition – technologies based on or related to geolocation allow to collect information about users’ location and thus create personalised offers, recommendations, or advertisements.

What industries would the GPS app be good for?

On-Demand services 

An example of such an application is Uber, already mentioned by us. Uber uses geolocation to determine the user’s location, find the closest available driver, show their location and estimate how long it will take a taxi to reach the pickup point. Likewise, food ordering apps show the entire route of the courier carrying our food. As a result, on-demand services are driving the use of GPS technology in applications significantly. 


A typical use case in e-commerce – providing users with the closest shipping/delivery centres or pickup points. They can also find the nearest brick-and-mortar brand store, if any, and go there. On the other hand, businesses can benefit from data acquisition based on location. It is a smart strategy to study users’ preferences which can help improve marketing and personalization. 

Logistics and transport

Geolocation in this industry seems to be almost crucial. An example of a location-based transport application is Safeway. The app provides real-time information about the vehicle’s location, speed, arrival time, driver stops and much more. Then think about the application in the case of public transport – an application showing vehicles and their route from stop to stop, allowing users to follow the course. Users open the app and find out when exactly their bus will arrive and can often buy a ticket straight away.


In the case of hotel applications, the map is often an essential element. Thanks to the geolocation function, travellers find out where their accommodation is and how to get there. In addition, such a map usually contains information about monuments, excellent pubs and other places worth visiting.

How much does it cost to make a GPS app?

Building an application is an investment that consists of several factors. You have to consider the complexity and number of application functions, type of application, technology stack, number of target platforms, team size, developer rate. Usually, each such project includes business analysis and market research, UX / UI design, application programming for selected platforms, quality assurance, and project management. 

It is best to start with a budget approach such as MVP in case of such an application. Thanks to this, you have the opportunity to test your idea and specific functions without spending a lot of money on a project that is not yet certain. Contact us, and we will help you go through this whole process hassle-free. 

Future of location-based app development

Apps like Google Maps or Waze already have a reputation. The future in the location-based apps sector is, above all, extending these possibilities and building greater involvement. Since users already have trusted navigation applications, new players on the market will have to stand out with something extraordinary. We will also certainly notice the emergence of new ideas. There will be other use cases of the geolocation function that we now are not aware of. For example, the Covid 19 caused a boom in on-demand service applications. It will undoubtedly continue, and we will have more of these types of applications available. You can also see the potential and even the use of AI and AR in conjunction with geolocation, for example, in PokemonGo games. So let’s expect new solutions combining future technologies with GPS.

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