Location-based services use real-time geodata from a smartphone to provide information, entertainment or security. Some services allow consumers to “check in” at restaurants, coffee shops, stores, concerts, and other places or events. Often, businesses offer a reward – prizes, coupons or discounts – to people who check in. Google Maps, Foursquare, GetGlue, Yelp and Facebook Places are among the more popular services.
Location-based services https://agilie.com/en/services/geolocation-and-mapping-technologies use a smartphone’s GPS technology to track a person’s location, if that person has opted in to allow it. After a smartphone user opts in, the service can identify their location down to a street address without the need for manual data entry.
The term applies to any technology that uses real-time location tracking to function. This means the technology is persistently identifying the user’s physical and geographical location. That information is used to perform services and functions. The technology is most frequently used with mobile devices, but it can be applied to any device that can provide a location, including desktop PCs.
There are several mechanisms inside a typical mobile device that can provide location information. The most common are GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi and cellular. These will be explained in more detail in the next section, but they all operate on similar principles.
A mobile device communicates with other devices and hubs to function. That communication can be with satellites, routers, towers or anything else. Because the mobile device is pinging off of multiple communication hubs, its precise location can be triangulated.
A few examples will clarify how these methods work. It’s worth noting that the most precise location tracking will incorporate more than one of these technologies.
The Global Positioning System is an array of satellites that exist solely to help find things across the planet. Any device with a GPS receiver (which includes most smartphones) can ping the satellites with that receiver. This will cause it to communicate with at least four satellites, and the satellites can compare the signal delay to pinpoint where the signal originated. This allows your phone to know exactly where you are and provide turn-by-turn navigation.
Wi-Fi location tracking is a bit different from other methods. Typically, a device will only connect to one Wi-Fi network at a time. This eliminates the possibility of triangulation. Instead, IP addresses are used for this form of location tracking. Every network has a physical IP address that allows the greater internet to know where it is. This is necessary to accurately send information across internet infrastructure. When your phone connects to a Wi-Fi network, it pairs with the physical IP of that network. That allows location services to know your current address.