How To Build an Amazing Navigation App?

How To Build an Amazing Navigation App

As cities grow bigger and denser, mobile navigation apps like Waze and Citymapper become more vital. With growing traffic congestion problems in the big cities, going from point A to point B is getting more challenging for people every year. And this is where navigation apps come in. 

What is a Navigation App? 

At its heart, a good navigation app is a blend of utility and simplicity. Its primary goal is to give you the optimal route to your destination. Thanks to their intricate algorithms, navigation apps also tell you how much time it will take you to get somewhere via different means of transportations, such as cars, bikes, buses, trains, etc. This means that these navigation apps can help you find the quickest and easiest way to your destination, no matter what your use case. 

In today’s fast-paced life, getting stuck in a traffic jam or getting lost is not something most people can afford. While nobody likes being stuck or lost, people with time-sensitive jobs such as delivery people or people running late find it even more frustrating and possibly financially or socially damaging. 

But navigation is just one aspect of these apps. Apps like GoogleMaps are a great business tool as well. These apps allow you to locate specific types of places, businesses, etc., in your city using filters. This gives businesses, such as cafes and restaurants, a chance to showcase their reviews, menus, and interior, in short, market themselves and help people make their minds. This also helps the user since they are making an informed decision. 

Given how essential these apps are these days, the navigation app market is on a constant rise. GoogleMaps received 23.42 million downloads in the US alone, whereas Waze got around 11.22 million downloads (source: Statista). 

How do Navigation Apps Work? 

Apps like Waze and Citymapper gather data from various urban transport systems to create a log. The applications start by collecting data regarding location, speed, traffic, etc., from various transport systems for a particular area. 

Then, the algorithms figure out the quickest and most hassle-free way from source to destination using this data. All of the information is tracked on a real-time basis. So if there is a pile-up in front of you, the application will pick it up before you get to the location and reroute you. 

Additional features such as friend-tracking, police tracking, sharing location with a friend, or amber alerts are also available in most apps these days. These additional features turn navigation apps into a complete product that is essential for every phone. 

Unique Features to Add in a Navigation App 

An app is only as good as its features. A navigation app like Waze and Citymapper needs a host of great and intelligent features to make commuting easier for their users. Given below is a list of excellent features that every navigational app should have. 


The heart and soul of a navigation mobile app like Waze, Citymapper, and GoogleMaps is GPS navigation. It presents users with multiple routes to their destinations depending on the choice of their mode of transportation. With the ever-increasing database, nowadays, very few areas remain hidden from these navigation apps. And with high-speed internet at affordable costs, people can use these applications even in remote areas where a single bar on their mobile phone is enough to get out of their predicament. 

GPS navigation for such apps, of course, needs to work with a smartly written algorithm that takes everything into account before plotting a route, from ongoing construction work to pile-ups and accidents. 

Some of the other technologies that you can use to improve navigation are: 

  • WiFi 
  • Cell ID 
  • iBeacon 

Real-time Notification

A lot can happen between the time a user starts his journey and finally arrives at his destination. If there is one thing we know about our world is that it’s constantly moving, constantly shifting. So what was once the quickest and easiest way to the nearby watering hole is now a gauntlet of pile-ups and open potholes the size of meteor craters. Therefore, a good navigation app should track routes in real-time and keep an eye on conditions. And if the parameters of the optimal route calculation algorithm change, then so should the route. 

Furthermore, there doesn’t have to be a three-block pile-up for an app to notify a user. Even if there is a slight increase in traffic or change in weather conditions, the user should be notified of these changes.  

Planning Features

For longer journeys, planning is essential. So a good navigation app should give users the power of foresight. By reading historical data of a planned route, these apps can predict the best time to start a journey. 

You can take planning to the next level and tell the user when he should make stops, the best locations for refreshments on the route, or what tourist attractions can be squeezed in without affecting the arrival time. 

Social Integration 

Good navigation should provide a selection of social integration features to its users. Allowing users to sign in using their social media makes it possible for your app to keep track of their travel habits. Furthermore, with this data, notifications and updates can be sent to the users on their projected travel date. Also, if a person makes a trip frequently, the navigation app can pre-determine the best route for the user even before he opens the app. 

Users love to share what they are up to with their friends online. To allow users to check-in from various trendy restaurants and other such places, thus bringing your navigation app into their list of social applications. 

Add Ons

One good thing about community-handled apps like Waze is that they continuously improve because people are constantly adding new features. A community-handled app always has the benefit of serving users better because the features being added are the ones that the community wants.


How to Build your Navigation App? 

To build your navigation app like Waze and Citymapper, you need a meticulous approach to mobile app development and deep technical knowledge. The best way to build an app like this is to hire a mobile app developer with experience and a good track record. 

But before you do that, there are some processes you need to go through first. 


The first thing you need to do is do your homework! 

Thorough research is vital for the success of your application. Before you dive into the navigation app market, you need to know who your competitors are, what areas you will be covering, what is the user sentiment about such apps, etc. 

Competitor analysis gives you essential data for your own app. Knowing what they have done with their application will give you an idea of things that you should bring in your app as well and also tell you what things you should stay away from. This data is gold for your app development process and will help you devise a solid game plan. 

Furthermore, knowing whether you will be providing your services globally or for a particular city only improves your application’s vision. 

If you are building an app for an enterprise to use, for instance, a logistics company or a cab service, you will need to know which features other than the ones we discussed need to be in your app. 

The research and planning stage should include: 

  1. Competitor analysis
  2. Market research
  3. Budget planning
  4. Revenue model
  5. Target user research 

Design & Development

The next step in the process is putting all that you have planned into action. Designing and developing a navigation app like Waze and Citymapper is an intricate process. 

As we discussed earlier, an app that is simple but feature-rich is the key. So in the design phase, you need to be particular about the colors and theme you pick for your app. The focus should be on a clean UI and a buttery-smooth user experience. 

For development, you will first need to decide which platforms you want to provide your service on. Most applications are available on Android and iOS, both since missing out on either is a huge setback. But depending on your revenue model, you can choose to select one or both. 

You can also choose from native and cross-platform app development, depending on your budget. 

For the uninitiated, in native app development, separate development cycles are conducted for different platforms. While native apps are sound and give fantastic UI/UX, they take longer to develop and test and cost more. On the flipside, cross-platform applications are web applications that run online from internet browsers. While they have a limit and still struggle to compete with native apps, these apps take less time to build and cost a lot less. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and depending on your preferences, budget, and time limit, you can pick one of them. 

Choosing the right stack for your application is also vital. Given below is a list of some of the most widely used technologies for navigation app development: 

Application and Data: 

  • Python 
  • NGINX 
  • Go 
  • Objective-C 
  • Backbon.JS 
  • C 
  • Handlebar.JS 
  • Underscore 


  • Google Analytics 
  • Mixpanel 
  • DevOps 
  • RequireJS 

Mobile app development can be complex and for new startups, hiring a talent-rich in-house team is challenging, expensive, and time-consuming. 

So instead of maintaining an in-house development team, you can hire expert mobile app developers instead from a staffing company. There are many great developers in the market providing excellent services. Depending on your choice, budget, and time limit, you can either outsource your entire project or augment your internal team by hiring only specific resources.  

Testing, Deployment, and Growth 

The most beautiful UI/UX and useful features can’t save your app from its inevitable doom if it’s buggy. Before an app is released, it needs to go through various testing processes to ensure that the end result is up to par. 

Releasing a bug-ridden application will lead to users bombarding your app store pages with negative reviews, and before you have the chance to release a patch, your app will lose all momentum. 

Once the app has been deployed, it needs constant vigilance. You need to provide good customer service and fix issues that your users are reporting. 

To stay relevant, you will need to release constant updates for your navigation app. The IT sector is constantly changing, and there is always a new technology that people are buzzing about. Bringing these technologies to your app will make sure you always stay on the current trends.



Navigation apps are a big market, and they are likely to grow as we find more and more use cases for them. Building a feature-rich application that is eye-pleasing and easy to use is a task that requires deft hands and carefully handled application development processes. Even a slight mistake can cost you vital time and money. 

Matellio has years of experience developing and handling navigation apps and systems. Using the latest technologies, we craft applications that provide value and ease to their users. With the help of state-of-the-art technology and our deep talent pool full of experts from various verticals, Matellio excels at the timely delivery of quality results. 

To know more about how we work, what services we offer, and what hiring models we provide, contact us and book a free consultation.

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