Geolocation technology has become a fixture with applications that serve purposes as diverse as mCommerce, directions to places of interest, finding rental places for and even dates online. Facebook and Twitter use geolocation as a feature that enables individuals to tag the location where an event occurs and even pictures and videos. Applications offering services such as news, reviews on places or eateries, real estate and travel based applications need it as an integral aspect for offering automated suggestions that best fit the user’s requirements.
Primary applications of Geolocation
It has been in the news for some years about how parents are increasingly using GPS tracking application to keep track of their children’s whereabouts. GPS has also been used largely for navigation purposes while finding a location. It’s usage and applications are becoming integrated with numerous other applications to give a user a freehand while managing applications. So, if you have selected an eatery from Yelp, then you can find directions to the place on the app which will redirect you to the maps app to give voice directions for you as you walk, take the public transport or drive up to the eatery.
Internet of Thing (IoT) and Geolocation
Geolocation is a central aspect of IoT applications. The concept of geolocation was to determine current device location, based on which wider applications can be made, the most basic of them being to offer directions. With the onset of mobile technology, and leading operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone and others offering geolocation application in their mobile devices, other non-related applications are integrating the feature to improve their services.
From IoT perspective, geolocation is used to track devices, enable the user to manipulate their appliances and indulge in 6th sense, hands-free operations. Users can now achieve more than just share their location and find locations based on their positioning using the geolocation feature.
A corollary and central aspect of geolocation and IoT is geofencing. Indoor geolocation technologies are an offshoot of this concept. There are three types of geofencing triggers – static, dynamic and combined. Geofencing enables the app to set a virtual fence that tracks all activities of the device within the space and enables a central device to monitor and use other electronic devices that are linked with it.
Many retail outlets are using geofencing features to send push notifications to prospective customers. So, as soon as a customer enters the store, or is in the vicinity, they will receive notifications to welcome them or give them updates on the latest deals on products they may be interested in. Many traffic control bodies are using the geofencing feature to inform drivers of roads that are less congested or free parking spaces in the vicinity they are in or direction they are headed. Social networking sites use static and dynamic aspects of geofencing to inform a user of friends who have checked into places of interest.
Gelocation and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Signals
Apple’s iBeacon and Google’s Eddystone are both BLE technologies that send low energy blutetooth signals to trigger actions via custom-designed mobile applications. These cannot specify user’s location like geofencing can. For instance, when used in conjunction with the beacon technology and application, the geolocation app enables the user to remotely use electronic devices that are linked with it. For instance, from the comforts of their office seat, the user can set their home thermostat, select the lighting and turn on the percolator for a fresh brew of coffee. Geofencing is being used to create hands-free, 6th sense technology based entire smart cities! A developer has to decide whether beacon or geofencing will be more appropriate for the purpose based on the application being for indoor or outdoor use.
How does Geolocation feature work?
Geolocation app feature works in apps for Maps and Navigation. In this case, the app has the map integrated into the app itself and when a user requests directions, she/he is redirected to Google Maps to show them the way. Review and recommendation apps use the geolocation feature extensively to provide place annotation and recommendation. In fact, Google has now built-in features for finding nearby places for dining, hotels, gas stations and much more, and they even show top reviews for the same. Though most mobile operating systems offer weather forecast services as their built-in feature by interlinking their location and weather apps, third-party apps also use this feature, and even local news applications.
Lifestyle apps such as health and fitness apps, event apps, travel apps, social networking and dating services, ecommerce apps, augmented reality and gaming apps all use geolocation feature to provide localized services.
Geolocation Security and privacy
Security and privacy was and continues to remain a primary issue with most adopters of geolocation features. However, with chat apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype etc. giving the option to share location, there hasn’t been a dearth of users using the feature. In fact, it has been considered to be convenient as it makes finding directions to friends’ homes and obscure places easy. However, these are still done in a personal space. When businesses manipulate this data, the issue of privacy creeps in, but most applications give the user the choice to decide if they want to share their location as the application launches. Hence, their concerns are allayed for the greater part.
Geolocation is an interesting and essential feature for most applications. If you have an application or an idea for an application, then geolocation feature will mostly be integral to it. The cost of integrating the feature is minimal compared to the conveniences it offers the app users.