As one of the most popular types of mobile applications on the market, messaging platforms have taken the world by storm, reaching 3 billion users in 2021 alone.
While instant communication can be traced back to the AOL Instant Messenger days of the 1990s, technical advancements in more recent years has resulted in this surge in popularity. Messaging apps, however, offer much more than just the ability to send texts, photos and videos. These platforms also allow users to make voice calls – a feature that 53 percent of message app users say they frequently utilize.
Many messaging apps are implementing additional cutting-edge features like the use of GPS to pinpoint nearby users on a map. In this article, we’ll discuss this feature more in-depth, including how to successfully build a location-based messaging app of your own. Keep reading to learn more.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- Messaging App Market Trends
- Top 3 Location-Based Messaging Apps
- Popular Features of a Location-Based Messaging App
- Technical and Marketing Considerations
- 4 Steps to Develop a Location-Based Messaging App
What Is a Location-Based Messaging App?
A location-based messaging app seeks to connect users who are in the same general vicinity. This is done by using GPS to show the location pins of other users on a map, making it an ideal feature for meeting new people while on vacation or during a concert or event.
Messaging App Market Trends
With 60 percent of people preferring messaging over other avenues of communication like email or phone calls, it’s safe to say that messaging apps won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the number of users utilizing these platforms is expected to reach a booming 3.5 billion by 2025.
Due to this success, many social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have started offering integrated messaging apps of their own. However, WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app with over 2 billion active users, followed by WeChat at 1.2 billion users and Facebook Messenger at 1 billion users.
Top 3 Location-Based Messaging Apps
Because there’s so many messaging apps on the market, platforms are being forced to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering more advanced features like location-based services. This allows users to communicate with other users who are in the same area through GPS functionality.
Snapchat allows users to show their location on a map and view stories from nearby users. This platform also recommends friends based proximity, and recently launched a new live sharing function that enables users to share their location with chosen connections for a desired period of time.
Aimed at travelers, Amplichat focuses on allowing users to chat with people they don’t know in their current area. In addition to potential meetups, this messaging app can be used as a local community hub for users to provide tourist help, event information, and food recommendations.
A location-based instant messaging app for strangers, MapChat encourages users to engage in small talk with others in the same vicinity. This platform lets users choose if they’d like to be “discovered” or not, and even provides a translation feature so that all users can chat, despite their native language.
Popular Features of a Location-Based Messaging App
In order to be deemed a successful location-based messaging app, you will need to implement a few basic features, such as live map integration, message notifications and user invites. You will also need to allow users to create both private messages and group chats.
Live Map Integration
Live map integration is an essential component of location-based apps, as users will need to have the ability to find others in the same area. This will consist of integrating data from GPS satellites, cellular tower pings, and short-range positioning beacons to pin users’ locations so it can be shared via a map on the platform.
You will also need to include a notification system to alert users of new messages or if there is another user in the area. This will ultimately keep users engaged in the app, as they can quickly reply to messages or start chats with nearby users.
As with any messaging app, your location-based platform will need to allow users to engage in one-on-one conversations with other users. In addition to text, users should also have the ability to send videos, photos, and emojis, as well as make phone calls.
Along with private messages, users should also be able to create groups and message multiple people at the same time. This is a great feature for families or coworkers, as users can create custom groups with anyone from their friend’s list and communicate with others in the same area.
Your location-based messaging app should also provide a way for users to invite other people to use the platform. This can be done by generating links for others to download the app. Not only will invites enable users to get the most out of your app, this feature will help get the word out and encourage more people to sign up for the platform.
Under the Hood: Technical Considerations
In addition to implementing popular user-friendly features, you will also need to consider the more technical aspects of building a location-based messaging app. These considerations will involve choosing the proper technology, ensuring messages remain secure and developing an app that’s scalable.
When choosing a tech stack, you’ll need to first decide what type of app you intend to build. If you plan to develop a native app, for example, you will need to create different versions of the app using native framework for its launch on individual operating systems like iOs and Android. This will involve building specific programming language for each platform.
If you’d like to develop a cross-platform app that can run on multiple operating platforms, your location-based messaging app will need to be developed using tools like Flutter or React Native. You could also use the Ionic framework to build a hybrid app that can be developed across all platforms but will behave like a native app.
While security is a crucial component of all mobile apps, this is especially important for location-based messaging apps, as you want to ensure that your users are safe and their private information is kept secure. This can be done by offering a feature that users can turn on to encrypt their messages or you could encrypt chats by default like Apple’s iMessage platform. You could also have messages disappear after a certain amount of time. No matter which option you choose, message encryption is critical in preventing others from reading private messages between users.
Your location-based messaging app should also be built for scalability, meaning that its capacity to handle users can be increased over time. This will help avoid any potential bugs or crashes, boost loading speeds and also cutback on update costs, as you are building for future growth. To verify that your app is indeed scalable, you should also complete various usability tests, including load testing and performance testing, before releasing the platform to the public.
4 Steps to Develop a Location-Based Messaging App
Now that you understand the ins and outs of location-based messaging apps, we’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to build and launch a platform of your own.
The first step in building a successful location-based messaging app is to research your customer demographic and determine what features are required for your target audience. This step will involve studying the competition, including the user base of similar apps and what features are offered on these existing platforms. You should also identify a unique selling proposition to ensure your app sets itself apart in the industry.
The next step is to design the app based on its required features, paying careful attention to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). It’s important to remember that the app should be visually appealing, organized and easy to navigate in order to resonate with users. Keep it simple, but creative.
Related Article: What Are Wireframes in UI/UX Design and Why Are They Important?
3. Develop and Test
The next stage is to actually code and develop the platform, matching the design. Then you’ll want to release the app to a small group of people to beta test the app’s usability and functionality. This will also consist of gathering user feedback regarding any issues and making any necessary improvements. As the most critical step in the process, you may want to consult a development agency like Idea Maker if you are lacking in the knowledge and skills needed to build the app yourself.
4. Deliver and Maintain
After completing the previous three steps, it’s time to officially release the app to app stores. However, you will need to continue monitoring the app, identifying bugs and collecting user feedback on a regular basis. Improvements will also need to be made consistently, as long as the platform is available on app stores.
When launching a location-based messaging app, you’ll need to develop a marketing plan to increase awareness about your product. These strategies include App Store Optimization, word of mouth, Google search ads and social media promotion.
App Store Optimization
Sometimes known as App Store Marketing and Mobile App SEO, App Store Optimization is similar to Search Engine Optimization in that it seeks to improve the visibility and ranking of your app in app stores.
The idea is to optimize your app’s name, title and keywords using natural and attention-grabbing language to drive traffic to your platform. You should also use images and screenshots to promote your app within app stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
If done properly, ASO can substantially improve an app’s visibility, boost user appeal and increase downloads.
Related Page: Search Engine Optimization Services
Word of Mouth
A form of free organic marketing, word of mouth involves a user inviting their friends to use the app in order to chat. This can be done by using a referral scheme and invite process or you could ask permission to access users’ contact lists to send out mass invites – like Kick.
Google Search Ads
Another marketing strategy for location-based messaging apps involves placing pay-per-click ads on Google search results to drive traffic to the app’s store page. With this strategy, Google will share your ad when people search terms that are relevant to your app’s category and display the ad to people who are interested in apps similar to yours.
Once the ad has been clicked, users will be taken to the Apple App Store or Google Play, where they can install the app on their device. You could also set it up where the app can be downloaded directly by clicking on the ad.
Social Media Marketing
You can effectively market your location-based messaging app on existing social media platforms by placing pay-per-click ads and creating organic content that can be shared by other users. While paid ads will reach a larger audience, organic content, such as your posts, videos and photos, offers a free means of promoting brand awareness, improving customer service and building relationships with your users.
In addition to marketing strategies, you’ll also need to plan a way to earn revenue from your location-based messaging app. The most popular monetization strategies for this type of platform include offering account upgrades, showcasing nearby businesses on your map and charging a fee for in-app emojis.
It is important to remember that you should always put the focus first on building a solid user base before attempting to make money off them. This will help to forge lasting relationships with your users and, ultimately, ensure that your app is poised for long term success.
Perhaps the most popular approach for many apps, the Software-as-a-Service model consists of offering a subscription service in which users will pay to access advanced functionality. This approach can be done by allowing users to sign up for a free account with limited features that can be upgraded with a fee.
Related Article: Understanding the SaaS Business Model and How It Works
You could also monetize your platform by enabling businesses to pay to have their store or restaurant featured on your app’s built-in map. As a location-based messaging app, this is a good option, as user’s can see nearby businesses and venues while browsing for new friends in the area.
Charge For Emojis
Another solid monetization strategy for a location-based messaging app is to charge for app-exclusive emoji usage. This can be done by charging a small fee per emoji, selling an entire emoji package or even by offering an emoji subscription.
Location-Based Messaging App Development Cost
Ranging from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands, the cost of developing a location-based messaging app will depend on a variety of factors, including the platform’s support, required functions and the time spent on its design and development.
Developing a native app is typically more expensive than a cross-platform app, as creating standalone apps for specific operating systems will drive up the costs for developers and the time they will need to spend building the apps. A cross-platform app, however, is both cost effective to develop, as well as maintain. It also maximizes exposure since the app will be available to iOS and Android users.
The app’s functionality will also greatly affect development costs – the more features you provide, the higher its costs will be to build. That’s why it’s always best practice to develop a Minimum Viable Product that includes only basic, core features upon launching. Then, once you’ve garnered traction with your user base, you can add more sophisticated features and additional functionality.
Idea Maker’s Experience In Messaging App Development
Since its founding in 2016, Idea Maker has developed several custom mobile applications, including the chat apps I Am Available and Quick Friends, both of which use location-based features to connect users in the same area. If you have an idea for a messaging app of your own, then schedule a consultation with us today and take the first step in bringing your vision to life.