We all remember when GPS’s were the newest and best thing to happen for our driving. We could type in an address, and our personal assistant would verbally take us there. So convenient.
Then, they got even better. We could tap a box for restaurants and get a long list of those that were nearby. Pretty soon after those devices were commonplace, design engineers would build GPS systems into cars. This all seems rather primitive to us now. And of course, if we were not in our cars, GPS systems were useless.
It was only a matter of time before location based services technology would evolve, and ideas would form for even better location tools. Of course, these have been in the form of location based service apps for both Android and iOS devices. This was a natural outgrowth of the technology, because users want more than just directions and restaurants, and they want information on the go.
Ideas to create a location based app for such things as ATM’s, finding one’s car in a parking lot, movies and concerts, fitness centers or jogging paths – the possibilities are endless – are generated every day. And developers are busy creating custom location based service apps for people with these great ideas.
What’s In It For Businesses?
Location based services applications are not just for those of us trying to find places and people. Retailers use app technology, generally known as geofencing, to send texts to folks when they are near a business they frequent – Starbucks, Subway, etc. – to offer special pricing or sales notifications. In fact, there are many who contend that this will be the future of shopping. Yet while location-based apps provide great opportunities for retailers, however, they also present some data and security challenges.
Where We Are Today
Some very cool apps have been developed and many more will certainly be developed. Here are some location based services examples that will show just how far we are down this road.
Here’s a weather app that many will find really useful. Users can select from a number of alert types – precise minute-by-minute updates for rain or snow in their locations, severe weather forecasts with timelines, etc. The app includes map simulations of weather patterns and will provide detailed weather conditions of travel destinations. One of the cool things about this app is that users can select from so many options and change those options whenever they wish.
This app, developed by Alty.co, is a combination business-social app that will allow users to network and connect with other business professionals, based upon where you and they are and commonalities that you may have. You can refine your searches based upon professions or industries, or any other criteria you choose. Once you make those connections, the app will calendar all of them so you stay organized. Sort of like a LinkedIn for physical locations and meet-ups.
This is certainly a fitness app, by which a user can track their physical activity, keep a log of food intake, and connect with friend to give and get support and encouragement. The “location” aspect of this app is that a user can choose from optional routes and can even find fitness centers and tips for running routes in numerous cities in the U.S. and around the globe.
Here is an app for both personal and business use. When you want to disclose your location to friends, family, or business associates, you can do so. If you are running late, or you have been waylaid, your location can be made known. You are totally in control of who sees and is informed of your location. Users can set up location groups too, so that families, for example, can always know where one another is and send messages.
Of the many examples of location based app mapping, this might be an app that many will want. Get real-time updates on traffic conditions from both the app and from other drivers in the same areas. The app will also inform a user of detours, construction, accidents, and more. And if a user needs gas? The app will locate the cheapest prices within the location area or route. This app relies heavily on users informing other users, and so far, it is working very well, along with app editors (actually users) who are continually revising conditions and sending them. And the price? Free.
It was bound to happen. Here is a social/match/dating app that also uses geo-location. Suppose you are in a certain vicinity. You will be notified when someone who is also a Happn user you have encountered before is close by. If this someone is a person you would like to see again, another encounter can be arranged. If, on the other hand, it is a person you wish to avoid, you will be able to do so as well. Users also have options to upload profiles, to be viewed by other users, unless they choose to block that information, which can be done. Users can block other users, and their location is never revealed unless the choose to disclose it. In essence, a user can make use of Happn explicitly as he or she wishes.
Suppose you are traveling to a new destination. You want to know what’s going on in town, where good restaurants are, what might be recommended for some great evening entertainment. Connect with other Yakkers in your location and get the information you need. Even if you are at home, you can talk with other Yakkers and find out what is going on, what events and situations they are talking about, and join in.
Order, pick-up, and go. This is how apps will be changing the way we shop. We already do this when we order from a number of restaurants online. Taco Bell has a chatbot for just such an activity. For startup purposes, Curbside has placed its operation in a number of U.S. cities, in cooperation with some leading retailers, such as Best Buy, See’s Candies, CVS Pharmacy and more. The geo-location aspect comes in like this: The customer places an order online; the retailer fills that order; the retailer is then alerted when the customer is pulling up and an employee carries the order out to the customer.
Social networking in real time. A user can post his or her life as it happens and share it publicly with all other users or just with select friends. The app virtually eliminates the need to text or call. User can set up groups and share different experiences and events, as they occur with specific groups (or not).
It’s an Angie’s List for Australia, but with a geolocation twist. This app is a marketplace that connects individuals and businesses that need tasks with people who are close by who can perform those tasks. The registered “taskers” are fully covered by the app owners’ $20 million insurance policy. Individuals post their needs for free; taskers enter their bids; the individual selects the tasker and makes the payment to the company (payment is held until task is completed satisfactorily).
One thing we do know: as individuals become familiar with and use some of these cool apps, they will get new ideas for location based apps – ideas that will make life easier, more fun, and certainly more efficient. Their great ideas will need developers, to be sure, at least beyond the MVP that they may be able to design. There are great app development firms with teams of developers who can take a great app idea and translate it into the next cool thing to create lots of buzz. So, what’s your idea?
Written by Slava Bushtruk, CEO+Founder of Alty, Inc.