While Google Maps sets the bar for LBS navigation, there are many other LBS apps that show how far technology has come to deliver excellent location-based experiences for customers.
Foursquare is an LBS app developer that popularized the idea of checking locations through a mobile device (this use has been replicated by many other applications such as Facebook and Yelp).
- Today, Foursquare technically offers two versions. Foursquare continues to be a location-aware smart search tool that focuses on finding nearby locations, events, restaurants, and stores. Meanwhile, the Swarm app, launched in Foursquare 2014, can be used to check and share places with friends.
- Both versions are often used collectively. Foursquare helps the user to find nearby places that suit his / her interests, such as a restaurant or activity while inviting friends to join by broadcasting the user’s location to his / her Foursquare / Swarm contacts. The user can also socialize with friends by seeing what contacts are near.
2. The Dark Sky
Weather apps are “a dozen”, but Dark Sky uses LBS technology to deliver a truly unique experience. Unlike its competitors, Dark Sky is deeper than the usual high-end reference summary. It provides hyperlocal instructions for precise addressing with minute notifications about changing weather conditions.
- Dark Sky combines weather data from a wide range of sources, combining multiple weather patterns and data to determine the most accurate weather forecast. It provides a “next hour” weather graph, a 24 hours detailed forecast, and a beautifully crafted seven-day perspective. Dark Sky constantly updates the “next hour” forecast, highlighting when the weather conditions will change (eg, when the rain will stop / start).
3. Pokemon Go
When this app first launched, there were a number of viral videos popping up that people do crazy things while searching for Pokemon characters (like falling into bodies of water or walking into buildings). Since then, the craze has cooled a bit, but this LBS app remains a mobile gaming hit that combines the addictive rush of collecting creatures, fighting monsters, and thriving with reality technology.
- Players use the smartphone as a map and viewfinder to explore their surroundings on foot to find and collect Pokemon characters. If a user joins one of the game’s three categories, the user can fight for control of the location-based Pokemon Gym.
- Each location in the app is tied to real-world locations where the user must physically visit, collect more characters and encourage players to travel to new neighborhoods.
- Although the game offers in-app purchases, Pokemon Go is free for both Android and iOS.
LBS apps are changing the way people shop. Most customers (who don’t move to Amazon) love to order, pick up and go. No more waiting in long lines, hunting down the aisle, or wasting time looking for parking.
- At Curbside, the process is as follows: the customer places an order online, the retailer or restaurant orders, the customer receives an alert that the order is ready, the retailer/restaurant is alerted when the customer arrives, and an employee takes the order to the customer.
- Curbside App offers this unique shopping/ordering experience to many US customers. Brings to cities. Curbside works with many leading retailers (Best Buy, Nordstrom, Sephora, CVS Pharmacy) and restaurants (Pizza Hut, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Boston Market) to make shopping quick, easy, and relatively painless. However, store options in a specific area may be limited.
Not to be outdone by external service, Target has LBS technology to transform the mobile user experience.
- For example, the retailer’s “Drive-Up” curbside pickup program, which is slowly expanding nationwide, enables customers to order items from the Target Store, select “Drive-Up” at checkout options, and restrict order. Instead of entering the store. The app sends a notification when the order is ready for pickup.
- The app’s LBS technology tracks the location of the user on the way to the designated parking lot, making sure the customer waits with the target associate when they arrive. It makes shopping faster at Target for the consumer and is usually less expensive than predicting the “impulse purchase” that goes into your shopping cart.
6. Gas Buddy
Drivers in the United States and Canada are always looking for cheaper nearest gas prices, and the GasBuddy mobile app helps LBS technology and user input in that search.
- GasBuddy connects drivers to a database of more than 150,000 gas stations and convenience stores, providing real-time fuel price information, station locations and submissions, and ratings/reviews. Relationships with customers, stations and credit card companies provide data. However, since many of the reported prices are based on consumer reports, GasBuddy rewards consumers with points for reporting and updating fuel prices.
- GasBuddy also offers a payment service, Pay with GasBuddy, which allows drivers to save on every gallon of gas they send.
- GasBuddy is available for free on Android and iOS.
Whatever the reason – avoiding problems such as driving to town without worrying about alcohol and driving, turning around in an unknown location or searching for / paying for parking space – Uber is a popular choice for transportation today. And the Uber app is a prime example of using LBS technology to provide a more user-friendly experience.
- The Uber Ride Sharing app allows the user to request a ride and pay with a credit/debit card (or cash in selected cities). The app uses two-way LBS technology so the driver knows where the user is taken and can see a live view of the driver’s location on the user’s map.
- The Uber app also provides two-way communication between users and drivers. For example, the user can explain to the driver (eg, “I’m wearing a red hat”), and the driver can notify the user if there is a delay (eg, “Traffic stopped – be there soon”).
- Finally, the app gives the user the opportunity to rate the driver and experience, and those ratings help other users.
Privacy is a concern
Although LBS apps are largely part of our reality, many see them as an insult to our personal freedom. LBS technology enriches our mobile experience, but at the same time, it is a big concern about privacy, as service providers are able to continuously track the user location.
- According to an independent user study commissioned by Skyhook, 83% of app users say that their app experiences are important to the location, while nearly 40% are hesitant to share their location.
- Instead of revealing their location, users expect real benefits from LBS apps. Half of all app users expect targeted offers or coupons after sharing accurate data, relevant app content and location data. Meanwhile, one-third of smartphone users expect personalized communication instead of launching LBS app functionality.
- The information available through LBS technology is beyond personal privacy. For example, law enforcement often makes use of LBS applications to identify criminals and terrorists, but is it legal to use that data for unauthorized purposes?
- Mobile devices now allow the user to tweak the LBS settings individually for each app (eg, turning on location-based services only when the app is in use), which can alleviate some of the privacy issues that accompany the use of the LBS app. App developers still have the responsibility of keeping users’ data private, which focuses on infrastructure and hack prevention.
The future of LBS mobile technology
As we become more accustomed to our smartphones, the future of LBS apps will change. These apps reach beyond the “check-in” capabilities of Foursquare and Facebook and use Google Maps to guide you to your destination.
Geofencing, store-mapping, and location-based advertising have all seen the glow of time recently. All of these marketing and customer experience programs have a bright future ahead of them, as more businesses, retailers, restaurants and service providers can integrate LB into their mobile applications.