How to Create a GPS App

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Geolocation apps are on the rise these days. Some of them are specifically focused on helping people find places while other ones use a GPS feature just to support the main functionality. In either case, enabling users to freely navigate new terrain, tag locations and share them with friends is something that always improves the usability of mobile products. It may seem that this niche is already full of applications. But the demand is constantly growing so building GPS navigation apps never loses its relevance.

To help you kick off the GPS app development project, we decided to explain all the ins and outs of the process. We’ll also outline how to overcome the security issues related to the integration of geolocation in a mobile application.

Geolocation app creating process

In general, the development of a GPS location app is similar to building any other mobile solution. Let’s briefly review the key stages so you can get prepared for what’s ahead.

01. Ideation

You’ll unlikely find a decent answer to the question of how to create a location-based app if you don’t know exactly what kind of application you want to build. In mobile development, GPS technology and online mapping data like Google maps are used for a variety of purposes, from food delivery to dating services. That’s why the first thing you need to do is to define what type of product you would like to bring to the world.

02. Market research

Many GPS navigation apps are already offered in the market. Doing comprehensive research will help you make sure that your idea is worth the effort and no one has implemented it yet. By interviewing potential users, you’ll get a better understanding of what your target audience needs and expects. This will mitigate the risk of wasting money on a product that customers aren’t ready to pay for. In addition, you should study the competition to figure out what advantages your app will have as compared to existing solutions.

03. Wireframing

A user interface of a geolocation app must be simple and straightforward; otherwise, users will just find an alternative solution. Wireframes show how features and content will be located on app screens. The aim is to provide a detailed structure of an application before programmers write the first line of code. Laying out different elements early in a project will help a development team ensure that the navigation is logical and meets user expectations.

04. Building an MVP

A minimum viable product will allow you to get user feedback on the future GPS app without spending a fortune on developing a complete solution. MVPs usually consist of basic features and unique functionality that has to be tested. Learning how target users interact with a product helps app creators adjust it to current customer demands and develop a more effective marketing strategy.

05. Developing a full-fledged product

Once you have user feedback, you may add other features to your geolocation app. It might be tempting to stuff the application with all possible functions to capture the attention of a broad audience. But it’s just an illusion. Keeping the right balance between the richness of functionality and its simplicity is much more important for product success than the number of included features.

Basic features for your GPS navigation app

Geolocation has a variety of use cases. The combination of features in a specific app depends on many factors such as a type of mobile solution, user needs, availability of similar products in the market, etc. But here is the must-have functionality that you definitely need to include.


A map is a foundational element of any location-based services. But don’t worry, you don’t need to create one from scratch — it would take ages and cost you millions of dollars. Developers can use SDKs and APIs to embed online maps provided and maintained by reputable vendors, for example, Google maps, HERE, or Mapbox.

Navigation system

A convenient navigation system can not only show the shortest routes but also offer alternative ways, GPS tracking, and reroute if needed. Other functions to consider include adding more than one waypoint, viewing history of trips, and backtracking.

Voice instructions

Practically all modern mobile devices are equipped with a GPS chip that can identify a precise location of a user’s smartphone at any given moment. It allows programmers to create a geolocation app that provides turn-in-turn directions comprising visual data and voice instructions. With this feature, users won’t get lost even in completely unfamiliar areas.

Social media integration

Since social media are extremely popular today, most people expect to have some social elements in every mobile solution. So if you’ve decided to build a navigation app, it’ll be a nice idea to give users an opportunity to share their locations, plan trips with friends, post content based on places that have been visited, and so on.

How much does it cost to develop a navigation app?

When people ask how to create a navigation app, one of the most important things they want to know is what amount of money they’ll need to complete a GPS development project. The matter is that the exact estimation can be provided only after a development team reviews your requirements. The number of variations is so high and the price range is so wide that it would be misleading to give you even an approximate budget.

But we want to provide you with general guidelines. So here are the main criteria influencing the project costs:

  • complexity of a geolocation app
  • the number of features
  • competency level of programmers
  • geographical location of a development team
  • timeline

If you want to mitigate the risks, we recommend you to choose a technical partner who can work according to the agile project management methodology like Scrum or Kanban. It will allow you to build a location-based app incrementally and adjust the development to the changed conditions if necessary.

Geolocation and security

When it comes to using a GPS application, security is probably the biggest concern. People want to be sure that their personal data is reliably protected even though they give an app access to such sensitive information as location. So how to make a GPS app secure?

Here are a few tips that will help you avoid data leaks and make your product resistant to cyber-attacks:

  • Use multi-factor authentication. For example, it can be a combination of fingerprint and a password.
  • Ensure end-to-end encryption of user communications. It’ll be much harder for scammers to take advantage of user data when all information is encrypted.
  • Choose a professional development team. Experienced programmers know how to avoid security flows and system vulnerabilities.


GPS navigation is one of those technologies that became a crucial part of our everyday lives. Geolocation significantly simplified such things as traveling to other cities, finding a restaurant nearby, sharing photos from overseas, tracking a taxi, and meeting new people within a specific distance. No surprise that location-based applications attract millions of users and gain huge popularity. So if you have an idea of a GPS app in mind, it’s high time to bring it to life.

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