How to Develop GPS Apps for Tracking Devices?


Pretty much all the apps we use these days track our locations. It can be a dating app like Tinder to figure out your location and give you a list of possible love interests in your area. Or it can be apps like Google Maps that track your location constantly to guide you to your destination.

Most of these apps use the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. For the uninitiated, GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that provides location and time data.

Over the years, many industries have used GPS for various purposes. According to recent statistics, the global market for GPS tracking devices is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% between 2022-2028 and hit the $ 3.8 billion mark. From apps like Google Maps and Uber to wearable devices like smartwatches, GPS tracking has many use cases, including tracking devices. Such a significant rise in GPS’s market value is evidence that the future for GPS apps for tracking devices is bright. And in this article, we will see how GPS-based tracking apps work, their benefits, and how you can build one.

  • GPS-based tracking apps work on mobile networks, wired or wireless, and send packets of data back to the home servers where a manager can access them. 
  • GPS tracking apps allow fleet managers to track their vehicles and ensure their safety, productivity, and efficiency.  
  • Aside from vehicle tracking, GPS apps can be developed for various devices such as smart watches, asset tracking, etc. 
  • To develop an asset-tracking app based on GPS technology, you need a technology partner that can deliver, like Matellio Inc. We offer high-quality and scalable GPS tracking app development services for various devices.

GPS-based Tracking Apps

GPS-based tracking apps send location and time data to the back end via mobile connectivity. With the help of mobile networks and radio towers, the device’s location is pinged. This ping is a small packet of data that contains the device’s coordinates and a timestamp. These small data packets make it easier for the information to be transmitted, even with poor network connectivity. These data packets are sent periodically to ensure that the backend servers always have the most recent, near real-time data of the device.

Tracking apps use the GPS feature for their benefit. But it is to be noted that the GPS is only responsible for geolocation. What the servers and the apps do with that information is up to them. Based on the type of app, the geolocation data can be used to find the perfect route to a location, find the best restaurant in the device’s vicinity, etc.

For instance, if you want to build a taxi booking app, GPS tracking is only one part of the picture. You will need map integration to visualize the GPS tracking data that you are receiving. You will also need a payment gateway so that your users can pay your drivers. Furthermore, your app will also need data back from the server. In this case, this data can be the taxis around the user’s current location, time left till the arrival of the taxi, the taxi’s real-time location, etc. So as you can see, GPS tracking will give you the geolocation, but in the end, what you do with it is what matters.

Also, when we say apps, we don’t necessarily mean mobile apps. Though mobile apps are the primary target, there are smartwatch apps that track your locations; fleet management software tracks entire fleets, fitness trackers, etc.

Various Use Cases of GPS-based Apps and Tracking Devices

GPS-based apps and tracking devices have many use cases. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent ones.


1. Fleet Tracking Apps

Though not meant for the normal consumer, fleet tracking is one of the most significant use cases of GPS-based apps. A fleet manager is responsible for monitoring, managing, and controlling a fleet remotely. The first requirement is the real-time location of each vehicle in the fleet to do that. This happens with the help of tracking devices such as Tracking Genie.

These devices are fitted with a SIM card and send geolocation and other information such as speed alerts, harsh break instances, harsh acceleration instances, etc. All of this data is streamed back to the server, where it is available to the fleet manager. Now, what to do with this data depends on the fleet tracking app and its features. The most obvious part is the map integration. With the help of real-time location data, fleet managers will know exactly where the vehicles are. On top of that, all the other data sent by the tracking devices gives the manager the ability to calculate the estimated arrival time, how many alerts there have been, etc. If integrated with a good AI, these apps can further help managers detect trends and patterns in driver behavior. But that’s not all. These devices also get weather data, traffic condition reports, etc., from other sources over the internet, which can be used to figure out the optimal route for the drivers. These apps help logistics and transportation businesses become more streamlined and cut back on fuel wastage.

2. GPS-based Consumer Applications

All the various apps that consumers use can be put in this category. Almost all apps on the market right now use GPS tracking. Mapping apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps use your real-time location to give you the optimal route to your destination. Then come the apps for things like goods delivery, shopping, taxi booking, etc. Food booking apps usually give you the option to auto-fill your current location. This happens with the help of GPS tracking. Furthermore, they can provide you with the exact real-time location of the delivery man using GPS tracking as well. Similarly, as we discussed earlier, taxi booking apps also use GPS technology.


3. GPS-tracking in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry hinges on proper workflows. Everything needs to run smoothly, or the entire production line can come to a screeching halt. That is why tracking becomes especially important for machine parts, raw material orders, etc. Usually, a single delivery changes hands multiple times before reaching its destination. During this time, it’s not too hard for a consignment to go missing or get sent to the wrong place. In those cases, manufacturing companies can fix the mix-up without much trouble. On the other hand, large manufacturing projects that don’t take place at one location but instead, different parts are created at various locations and are then assembled in one location need GPS tracking for all the pieces.

Read More: How to Build an Amazing Navigation App?

4. GPS-based Vehicle Tracking

While some of you may argue that this use case is a part of point number one or two, however, it’s, in fact, a different use case altogether. Car companies use these apps for multiple purposes. Modern cars are fitted with all sorts of smart features that make the lives of their owners much easier. For instance, if you lock yourself out of your vehicle, all you have to do is raise a request with the company. They will ask you for your credentials and then locate your car using a GPS-based tracking app. Then, they will be able to send a command to the car and unlock the door. Similarly, stolen or misplaced cars can be tracked as well. The self-driving feature also uses GPS for route selection. Based on its current geolocation, it figures out the traffic and weather conditions and chooses the shortest and safest route to the destination.

How to Develop a GPS-based App for Tracking Devices?

Tracking devices are not special devices whose sole purpose is to track things. Every device that connects to the internet or has mobile connectivity is a potential tracking device in the internet age. With that in mind, if you are looking to make a GPS-based app for a device, then here’s everything you need to know to get started.


1. Defining the Requirements

As we discussed earlier in this article, there are plenty of use cases for GPS-based apps, and there are plenty of devices that can help you. So the first thing you must do is define your requirements. What exactly is it that you wish to achieve?

From health tracking apps that use GPS to figure out your real-time location and find out how much you have walked and calculate how many calories you burned to fleet tracking apps to control tens of trucks, the possibilities are endless.

So figure out what you want to achieve with your app. Make a list of all your needs and requirements. An app is more than just location tracking, as we have already learned. You will need to utilize geolocation data to your benefit, and for that, you will need to add features and modules to your application. These features and modules will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

Defining the requirements will also help you in later stages while looking for a development and technology partner to work on your app.

2. Market Study and Planning

Once you know all your pain points and requirements, it’s time to find what solutions are available to you. This will require you to conduct a thorough market study. Learn how you can meet your requirements. Competitor analysis will play a key role at this stage. Learn how they are handling their problems and see if you can do the same. It will help you understand what to do and what not to do.

While your software development company will help improve your app’s plan, you must do your research and make one yourself first. What tracking devices you should use, what type of apps others in the market have developed for them, etc. For instance, a logistics company is better off using a dedicated tracking device instead of their drivers’ mobile phones. These devices are placed under the dashboard, and not only do they provide tracking data but also allow the fleet managers to control the vehicles, like stop them or slow them down, remotely. On the other hand, a dating app like Tinder is better off using a smartphone than a smartwatch.

You can only learn things like this if you study the market properly.

Once you have done your research and built up a basic app plan, you are ready to move to the next stage.

3. Hiring a GPS-based App Development Company

During the previous stage, you will often wonder how much all of this will cost and who will develop it. And nobody will blame you if your curiosity got the best of you and you researched the development costs and potential developers you could work with if you move forward with your project. We encourage you to do it, in fact.

Budget and time planning are essential for a successful software development project. They give you the parameters by which your entire development project should run. But the final quotes can only come from a development company.

There are plenty of talented and experienced software solution developers. But you must find the one who has experience developing the type of app you need. Not all developers work on embedded or wearable app development. Not all developers provide development services for the manufacturing industry. So you will have to choose your technology partner based on your industry, requirements, and solution.

A great way to find a developer is to go on sites like Clutch. From past experiences to client reviews, you will find everything you need to know about any developer there. Also, don’t forget to study their websites as well. Most developers like to showcase their work online. You can get a good idea about the type of work they have done in the past from their portfolio.

4. Developing the App

GPS-based app development is a time-consuming and complex undertaking. But still, if you’re lucky, it won’t take as long. We live in an age where there is no need to develop every part of an app from the ground up. There are plenty of pre-made solutions available for purchase online. You can simply buy them and integrate them with your app. Payment modules, mapping modules, etc., are all available online, and you don’t need to build them.

That said, you still need to design a UI based on your requirements, add other custom features, and make sure that it runs smoothly on the device of your choosing.

5. Testing and Deploying the App

Testing is an essential part of any app development process. QA engineers ensure that your app is free of bugs, performs well on the platform of your choosing, and provides a flawless and smooth user experience. While there is no such thing as a 100% bug-free or perfect app, the fewer bugs you have, the better. So make sure your app is well tested before you deploy it.

The process doesn’t stop after deployment. Once you have deployed your app, you need to constantly update it and provide as many bug fixes as possible. For consumer apps, you will continuously need to improve your offering to avoid losing your user base to the competition.



GPS-based apps for tracking devices are becoming a growing trend. Real-time geolocation data collection is essential for next-gen software solutions. From helping factories streamline their assembly lines to assisting people in tracking their fitness, GPS-based tracking app development has many use cases.

And if you are looking to build a GPS app for a tracking device, then Matellio Inc has got you covered. We have 20+ years of experience developing top-notch software solutions for many industries. Our highly scalable development services are designed to help businesses of different sizes. Our experts are highly skilled and trained in the industry-best software development practices.

If you want to learn more about our location-based software development services, click here

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