With navigation apps, you don’t have to stop and ask passers-by to give directions. Google Maps or Waze can help you survive in the middle of nowhere by finding the shortest route to your destinations and pointing out gas stations or coffee shops on your way.
But there is more:
According to Yahoo!Finance, the digital map market is growing at a blistering pace- from $19.3 billion in 2022 to $55.2 billion by 2031. It shows that usage of smartphones for navigation will be growing as well. This way, users avoid getting lost on unfamiliar roads, discover new places, read reviews of cafes and shops, and plan sightseeing.
Google Maps and Waze are keeping the top spot in iOS and Android app stores. Google Maps counts a smashing 155 million active users worldwide, taking a 67% market share.
Not only users can benefit from navigation apps. Location-based businesses like restaurants and gas stations can lure new customers by running local ads with navigation apps.
Tag along as we explain how to build a navigation app with IDAP.
Key stages when building a navigation app
Any navigation solution is based, above all, on digital maps. To provide them, you need first to acquire direct, regular access to the corresponding navigational data. For that, you will have to make a deal with the specialized satellite-tracking provider. From there on out, you can start implementing other user-oriented features.
All in all, your typical navigation software development cycle would include the following stages:
- Definition of software requirements -> their detailed description -> development of the software architecture based on that;
- Creation of the app design, including all icons, screens, and other visual elements;
- Implementation of major features for manipulations with maps, data input, and such;
- Addition of objects and information about them to the maps;
- Development of additional features and services, for instance, traffic jam notifications, route builders, geolocation functions, etc.;
- Launch of the built app into public access.
So you decided to build a new navigation app.
We recommend building the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with the basic features.
It’s cheaper to test your business idea. You can deliver the product before your competitors and win over users. Here’s what features you need to include in your MVP.
The core features of your navigation app MVP
When users turn to a navigation app, it’s because they can’t get from location A to location B. Helping users get hassle-free to their destination point and follow the optimal route are the key tasks of a navigation app. However, your task will be to make entering the destination and building routes effortless.
There are several ways how users can enter their destination point:
- Just type in an address
- Choose a ZIP code
- Point the destination on a map
- Use voice commands
It would be great to have them all, but you can kick off your MVP with just a few option. Plus, enable users to save their favorite locations and routes. Don’t forget about offline navigation since there are places without cell reception at all.
2. Distance count
When the destination point is set, users would like to know how much time they need to get there. You can add an info panel with all important information, like the estimated time of arrival, speed, and distance indicators. If your navigation app is going to be available worldwide, consider adding a few units of measurement to make the user experience as smooth as possible.
3. Traffic info
A navigation app displaying traffic jams can become a lifesaver (or a nervesaver). There is hardly a driver that likes spending hours in traffic jams. Make sure even your MP has the possibility to provide real-time traffic data and help users avoid the most loaded roads.
4. Audio and visual directions
In most cases, drivers cannot distract from watching a road to check the map. Instead, they can use voice commands and voice navigation. But there are still some drivers who prefer to listen to music, so you’ll need to enable a turn-by-turn guidance display with pop-ups.
5. Route optimization
Sometimes, there is more than one route to get to the destination, but they can differ by arrival time, distance, and traffic conditions. Help users choose the optimal route just like Google Maps or Waze can do.
Add a rerouting option in case the driver misses a turn. However, pedestrians and bikers also use navigation apps, don’t forget to add route options for them as well. Display sidewalks and bike paths as well.
The beginning of our lists is just the backbone of your navigation app. You can already roll out a good product with these five features. But if you strive to deliver the best experience and next-generation mapping services, you need to add more features. Starting with an MVP leaves room for further extensions and possibilities. Here are some advanced features you can pack your app with further updates:
- Parking finder
- Facilities nearby
- Weather forecasts
Top 5 Existing Navigation Apps
Let’s take a look at five expert picks of the best navigation apps out there you can use right now to find your way around any kind of place.
1. Google Maps
You probably already know Google Maps as a universal navigation solution from Google. It is used daily by tens of thousands of users and is installed both on proprietary navigators and smartphones or even used online via any browser.
- The app works in 220 countries of the world. You can rest assured that you won’t get lost in most of the locations you may go to on this globe.
- There is a routing feature to help you see the precise direction and distance you’ll need to walk or make via some transportation. You can even see the approximate time it’ll take you to make it.
- There are indications of various attractions, cafes, restaurants, gas stations, and other establishments in the vicinity and throughout the global map.
- You can use real-time geolocation.
- There is a favorites section where you can add locations and share them with other users.
- A 3D street view feature is pretty convenient and even fun.
- Routes can be saved and viewed at any time later on.
- The app shows schemes of large buildings story by story, which is also very convenient.
- There is a built-in voice assistant that can specify your routes aloud.
- The app even shows you traffic jams, which is an ultimate benefit for drivers.
In order to use Google’s solution to the fullest extent, you need to be connected to the web. Otherwise, you can only view static maps offline.
Waze is a navigation app based on crowdsourced data. Users share real-time traffic updates, routes, and gas prices to improve driving experiences. Thanks to its bustling community and accident reports, Waze’s routes are a cut above the competition.
- Social connections and a bustling community provide real-time updates on traffic conditions.
- Waze allows users to manually control streaming music without leaving the app.
- Crowdsourced traffic conditions allow for building better routes.
- Any accident, traffic incident, speed limit or speed camera pop-up on the screen when put up by a community driver.
- Users need a permanent connection to the Internet to use the app.
- The app doesn’t allow for creating directions from places other than the current location.
- There is no satellite, terrain, or 3D map imaginary.
Yet, another efficient navigation solution that has both paid and freeware versions. Can also be used in most countries of the world and works in both online and offline modes. When offline, however, the data doesn’t refresh.
- Maps are updated on a daily basis, which notifies drivers about any commotions on the road, including traffic jams, road accidents, repair works, and such;
- There is a special algorithm for building the most time-efficient routes;
- The app indicates railway crossings, toll roads and bridges;
- The software performs really smoothly, being powered by hardware acceleration;
- If you already have some maps downloaded, you can view them offline;
- There is a dispatching feature that allows you to communicate with other app users;
- You can add other users to friends and see them on their location on the map later on;
- There is a feature for emergency call ups of a tow truck, taxi, 911, etc.;
- There are both freeware and paid versions available, with several license packages to pick the most fitting one;
- Some users claim that the interface is a bit overcomplicated;
- You can only use one license on one device (navigator or smartphone).
4. iGO Navigation
This one is pretty popular and widely used in the US as well as in many countries of Europe and Asia. The software is based on the TeleAtlas-type maps that are updated quarterly. The app provides very detailed routes, specifying all the buildings and addresses along with road signs and types of highways. Upon reaching destinations, you can see the statistics of your travel made – distance traveled, average speed, and other miscellaneous parameters.
- The application provides maps for over 100 countries;
- It is pretty lightweight and won’t occupy too much space on the device;
- There are several route-building options to pick;
- The maps display cafes, restaurants, gas stations, and other important travel places;
- Models of cities and streets can be viewed in a 3D mode;
- There are voice notifications and directions to help you navigate hands-free;
- Works offline, you just need to buy all the needed maps;
- There are separate versions for passenger and cargo vehicles;
Users complain about Eastern Europe maps not being updated regularly enough.
This here app is compatible with most existing operating systems, including Android, iOS, BlackBerry Q10/Z10/Z30, Windows Phone 7.5/8/8.1, Symbian, Bada, Tizen, Windows CE, and Windows Mobile. There is a multi-language interface and maps for over 50 countries of the world.
- There is a huge number of various services and features that help you stay up to date with traffic jams, and weather on the road as well as create friend lists and see other users’ location on the map;
- The interface is quite accessible, intuitive, and easily-configurable;
- Can perform both online and offline with downloaded maps.
- There is a voice assistant to give you directions, warn about certain obstacles and speed limits, etc.;
- Downloaded maps are highly detailed and can be viewed in 3D;
- The navigator builds routes rapidly, considering all the traffic jams, accidents, and repairs on the road;
- Provides statistics about the distance traveled, with all important characteristics;
- Includes a huge database of stores, gas stations, malls, repair shops, and more;
- Utterly detailed maps require the respective amount of space on the device;
- There aren’t separate maps for towns, regions, and counties.
Сost of Developing a Navigation Application
It’s hard to define even approximate costs when there are no technical specifications at hand. But we can define on which aspects the ultimate price will depend:
- Hired development company;
- Employment of readymade or authentic maps;
- Amount of functionality;
- Implementation deadlines.
Nowadays, mobile navigation products evolve at a blistering pace following tech trends and user needs. To build a navigation app that will win the market, your product has to go a long way.
Still, the process of building a navigation app from scratch isn’t an easy one. Our battle-tested team of business analysts, PMs, developers, designers, and testers can help you navigate the deep waters of the tech world and turn your ideas into viable products. Contact us for a free kick-off consultation.