Are you looking to add location awareness to your mobile application?   The killer applications for smartphones are those that help you find a great restaurant, the best and nearest barista, the next bus, the closest copy shop, or directions to Aunt Millie’s house from an unfamiliar area.  The common key to all of these apps is location.

Of course, it is important that you think out how location adds benefit for your customers. Once you’ve done that, the next step is to figure out how best to implement location in your app. The Application Resource Optimizer from AT&T is a tool that helps developers speed up their application and reduce the network impact of their applications.  As the outreach lead, I have worked with over 200 top mobile developers to optimize their apps.  While looking at the traces of these apps, I have noticed an interesting trend in HOW mobile app location is being used.

Nearly every application I have tested uses the default Latitude/Longitude of 0°/0°.  For those geographically challenged, this is a location in the Atlantic Ocean about 380 miles south of Ghana and 670 miles west of Gabon:

While this location may not have a good Vietnamese restaurant or decent latte nearby, many apps actually start downloading maps with this default location. My favorite initial download looks like this:

In building a mobile app, getting useful information to your customers should be your #1 priority. Is this the first bit of data you want to provide?  If not, I have a couple of suggestions:

1. Get a rough network location while the GPS is triangulating. A map of the nearby zip code is better than the Central Atlantic.

2. Wait a couple seconds for a rough GPS location. Better to wait a second and provide value than to immediately start downloading useless data.

3. Pick a cool initial location.  Maybe the city where you are headquartered, or the location of your first store, or perhaps a map of a school shaped like the Millennium Falcon.  If you can bring a smile to your customer’s face, they are more likely to put up with the short delay.

         

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