During the planning stages of the app development process, your business will need to determine the features, functionalities and technology you want to include in your mobile app. All of these considerations can affect the timeline of the project, the complexity and cost of the build and the app permissions necessary to have your app approved by the app store.
While planning out your app, you may consider adding location features. If you are unfamiliar with the capabilities, you can always talk with your software development partner. They can help you understand whether location-based features would be a good fit for your custom mobile app. However, as a preliminary evaluation, here are the pros and cons of location features for your app development project.
Pro: Improve the Capabilities of Your Mobile App
Incorporating location services into your development project can open up new possibilities for your mobile app. Geolocation is used in a variety of ways to expand app capabilities, including
- Checking in at a location;
- Updating a status;
- Finding local deals;
- Targeted advertising based on proximity;
- Interactive AR experiences that utilize the surroundings;
- Requesting, tracking and fulfilling orders;
- Rideshare services;
- Tracking the location of family and friends;
- Monitoring local weather;
- Recommendations and reviewing services;
- And much more…
As you can see, there are many geolocation features that serve an assortment of purposes. When utilized correctly, location data can help personalize the app experience and increase user engagement. Location features could be just what you need to elevate your app to the next level.
Con: Market Saturation for Location Apps
So, what are the downsides to incorporating location services in your custom mobile app? For starters, with the variety of location apps available, it can be difficult to compete with those already dominating the industry or app category. Big-name apps that have been available for years have the benefit of primacy, name recognition, user reviews, and multiple rounds of updates.
It is not impossible to break into an app category. However, any app you create will need to make a name for itself and differentiate itself from the apps that are already available in the app store.
To kick-off your efforts, focus on the following questions:
- Is there a service that is currently missing in this app category?
- What new feature could my app provide?
- What would make users want to choose my app over those currently available?
- Could I improve upon an already existing idea?
Apps that are not primarily focused on location services run the risk of offering sub-par location features, graphics and maps. Businesses could consider integrating with existing features or make their app specialized enough so that users would not compare the app with location capabilities to one that is focused on navigation. Regardless of the purpose of the mobile app, a well-crafted user interface (UI) will help to provide a positive user experience (UX).
Pro: Provides Businesses with User Insight
In addition to personalizing the user experience, location data can provide companies with insight about their users. This could range from the concentration of users based on their geographical location to how users interact with the location features of the app.
Analyzing the data can help businesses further tailor the capabilities of the app through updates. It can also help to inform how the app should be marketed. For instance, should businesses improve their advertising for those who live in user-saturated areas? Or perhaps tailor their marketing to areas that have low user engagement? Location data can help to answer these questions.
Additionally, location analysis can be paired with other forms of user analytics to provide even greater insights. Businesses can analyze demographic information along with the average radius users are willing to travel to reach a particular destination, such as a department store, depending on the app. This could help them determine the features of an interactive entertainment app or how to market their business sales or promotions to different users. The possibilities are endless.
Con: Access to Sensitive User Information
One of the biggest potential downsides to geolocation capabilities is that it grants the app access to personal location data. It is important that businesses manage how this information is used. If not handled correctly, access to sensitive user information and the misuse of this data could have serious legal implications.
For many apps, it makes sense to avoid storing location data in a way that makes it traceable back to the specific user. This sensitive information, if not managed with care, could be connected to their identity and reveal private information about their lives. However, there are a couple ways this issue can be addressed.
1. Don’t Store Location Data
The first is to simply not store the location information. If geolocation information is helpful for a feature that works in real-time, it may not be necessary to store location data at all. Alternatively, the app could allow users to choose whether they want the app to remember their location history. If the feature can be enabled, however, users should have the choice to disable the feature as well.
2. Encrypt User’s Location Data
If the users do choose to enable the storage of their information, it needs to be encrypted so that it cannot be traced back to the individual user and compromise their identity. The location information could also be stored separately from other personally identifiable information. Any analysis of the data by the company providing the service should be done in aggregate form.
Location Features: To Implement or Not?
While not an exhaustive list, these pros and cons should help your business evaluate whether location-based features could be a beneficial addition to your mobile app. By starting the consideration process, you will be well equipped to discuss the possibilities of these features with your mobile app developer.
If you are looking to develop a custom mobile app, the team at 7T is ready to help. We also specialize in custom software development, data governance and system integration, among other services. Our talented developers work closely with our clients to discover their pain points and develop custom solutions that meet their needs.