How to Build a Location-Based App Backend

Geolocation apps have become a considerable part of the mobile app market. There are lots of location-based mobile products you are probably using weekly or even daily. Navigation apps, games, weather forecast services, and even some social media apps (Facebook and Instagram) – all of them rely on location services.
Let’s discover the cutting-edge approach towards creating the backend of mobile app with geolocation and find out which technologies are the most suitable for this task nowadays.

How Does a Geolocation App Work?

Every modern smartphone has several geolocation features developers use to locate you on the map. Here are the technologies helping to determine your location:

  • Global Positioning System. GPS is a satellite system. It uses the distance to the currently visible satellites – your smartphone “sees” them with the GPS receiver – to calculate your coordinates. Our skies are full of such devices these days, so it is actually hard to find a place where the GPS won’t work. As long as the smartphone relies solely on the GPS receiver, you don’t need a cell tower nearby to stay on your apps’ radar;
  • Wireless Fidelity. You can use Wi-Fi to track your users’ location. There are countless Wi-Fi areas marked on Google Maps and its alternatives. As soon as the user connects to one of these access points, you’ll get pretty accurate information about his or her geolocation;
  • Cell ID. Cell-based location depends on your local cell towers coverage and the number of devices in your area. The better radio signal you receive from the mobile operator, the more accurate your app will be;
  • A-GPS. The so-called assisted GPS technology combines all three previous ones to get the fastest and most precise geolocation data. Unfortunately, it consumes too much power so almost any device will run out of battery fast with A-GPS.

Technologies Used to Build an App with Geolocation

You can hardly deny the inefficiency of building a location-based app from scratch. Of course, if you are developing your app from the ground up, you can implement all the features you want. At the same time, high-quality APIs don’t interfere with your code and let you stay flexible.
Let’s find out how to build a mobile app with geolocation and which platform-specific APIs are the most multifunctional and convenient to use.

How to Build a Location-Based Android App

This platform has several high-quality APIs to help you out during the development. We consider the Google Maps and Android User Location APIs the best. Here’s the data you can get via these two:

  • Current or the last known location. Swift and productive, these programming interfaces deliver accurate data in no time;
  • Distance. You get the access to measuring the distance between two points on the map. The distance between user location and destination, for example.

Google Maps and Android User Location are easy and fast to learn. At the same time, they resolve numerous development issues and let you enjoy the process.

How to Build Location-Based App for iOS

The iOS platform can also boast about some decent geolocation APIs. They include but are not limited to:

  • iOS Maps;
  • Core Location;
  • Google Maps Geolocation.

These three let you locate users and implement the data in further navigation, distance calculation and for other purposes.

Elements of the Backend Side

One of the crucial points you need to decide on is your app’s final functionality, as it directly influences the server backend of a mobile app. Let’s figure out how to plan your architecture.

What Do You Use the Geolocation for?

You need to determine the set of location-based features you are eager to implement. If it’s just about adding the location info to user posts or enabling the weather forecast, you won’t need the better part of the API capabilities. Therefore, you can exclude the unnecessary chunk of code and improve the performance.
On the other hand, you may want to create a full-fledged location-based app with map synchronization, route planning and so on. This is where it gets serious.
Usually, developers reach fast and powerful results by dividing the code into two parts. Most often, there are two snippets responsible for locating and map rendering respectively. Luckily for you, the APIs mentioned above use this approach, so you’ll have your development issues solved in no time.

How to Build the Backend of a Location-Based App

Backend development requires planning. This is why we recommend you to split the process into the following stages:

  • Engineering. Not a single developer can build an app in time without the development plan. Sort everything out, choose the suitable dev tools, discover all the small subtasks and potential pitfalls to avoid mistakes during the next stage;
  • Coding. The longest and most difficult dev phase. Developers already have the architecture design, now it is time to bring it to life;
  • Testing. Already crave the launch? Not so fast, you need to test your creation first. The testing team finds and fixes bugs, vulnerabilities, and any other small flaws.

How Much Does It Cost?

The total cost of your app entirely depends on the developer team you opt for. The region, years of professional coding, other areas of expertise – all these aspects matter. The US developers, for instance, charge $55-$80 per hour, while Eastern European devs ask only $20-$40 for every hour of their work.

Now, let’s see how many working hours your software takes:

  • Engineering – 80-100 working hours;
  • Coding – 700-800 working hours;
  • Testing – 80-150 working hours.

All in all, it’s a matter of approximately 1,000 working hours to plan, develop and test your location-based mobile software. You can multiply this number by the hourly rate of the chosen region, and here you have it – the price tag for your app will vary from $20K up to $80K.
Don’t forget about the maintenance. It takes about 30-45 working hours per month to keep the product up and running.

3 Great Examples of Location-Based Apps

Let’s take a look at several successful cases of using mobile geolocation in an app to get the much-needed inspiration.


Yep is a recommendation app. Some people leave feedback on restaurants and other places, others get a variety of unbiased reviews and recommendations.

Facebook Weather

Facebook app can now replace all your weather software with its forecast features. It locates you and offers the relevant weather forecast for your region. This simple yet crucial feature adds value to the Facebook app.

Pokemon Go

Games can also benefit from mobile geolocation! This one uses your current position to generate a quest. You need to reach a specified location in order to find a pokemon.


Location-based apps are a tremendous mobile development segment. It is still possible to come up with a revolutionary idea and become a giant in this industry.
Stay motivated and confident about your project. If you truly believe in your idea, it will inevitably come to life.