Guide to Developing a GPS Navigation Application

Difficulty: Intermediate

Estimated Completion Time: 10 minutes

Nowadays, nearly every household in the US has a car. This results in the annual growth of about $100 billion in the global automotive market, with the total market size estimated to be $2.7 trillion. It may not seem to be a very representative statistic, but it has everything to do with the growth in the popularity of GPS navigation applications.

Owners of startups and well-established businesses are curious about how to develop a navigation app, since every driver is likely to use them at least occasionally. No one really purchases old-fashioned maps these days. So, let’s find out how to create a solid GPS navigation product, what strengths to emphasize, and what features to avoid. And in case you are looking for a reliable development agency to develop a GPS app, contact us with your project details to claim your free strategy session.

What Are GPS Navigation Apps and Why Are They Popular?

Handy apps that help to navigate in any location are used by nearly everyone who has a phone and access to the internet. Navigation apps are basically interactive, updated real-time maps that track the location of the user. The phone gathers information about the user’s location and transfers it to the app. 

GPS software typically allows building an optimal route and guiding the user from their location to the desired destination using the indications on the interactive map and voice instructions. GPS apps have precise maps of the entire world in them. It’s no surprise that they have become popular means of navigation in the fast-paced society, and startup owners worldwide are wondering how to develop a GPS app.

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What Are The Essential Features of Every Navigation Application?

Now, let’s go through the functionalities that a successful GPS and navigation app should have:


Registration and authorization are essential parts of Waze-like app functionality. This way, users get a personal account where they can leave notes and reviews and communicate with others. The right call is to enable users to connect their accounts to social networks such as Facebook. 

Real-Time Updates

Having an adequate number of satellites producing a good, consistent signal is already good enough. But some apps, such as Waze, also enable the uploading of images and notes to offer precise, up-to-date data. 

In-App Messages

Another way to help your app reach the Waze level is to display user messages in a more attractive way. You may deliver them as push notifications or simply send them to a chat. 

Voice Navigation

As a rule, car owners should not be distracted by a map while they are driving. Turn-by-turn navigation is regarded as an optimal solution and a necessary feature. Voice navigation is what enables drivers to hear directions as they go. Route options to use, traffic alerts, and notifications should also be integrated with the voice navigation functionality. 

Social Media Integration

How to make a GPS app that would stand out among competitors? Integrate it with social platforms! That would add a social component, improve user experience, and reduce security risks around authentication. It’ll also eliminate the need to create an account for your app, since the user may use their existing one. 

Geolocation & Navigation

An integrated app is definitely the basis of a navigation app. It uses the GPS system to detect a user’s location and show the route. You may consider incorporating the Cell ID functionality. It utilizes the information coming from operators of a mobile network. Together with the GPS, the technology enables navigation to work more accurately. 

Payment Service Integration

You definitely want to monetize your GPS app. Consider adding, for one, in-app purchases as one of the methods of monetization. As your app becomes more popular, you’ll be able to offer complementary services and even the possibility of partnership.

Carpool Service Integration

Adding the carpool functionality in your app is a great way to gain some extra popularity among users. 

Google Calendar Synchronization

Calendar functionality is widely used for more feasible trips. The list of forthcoming appointments extracted from the calendar may be used to create a route automatically. 

How to Create a Navigation App: Tips for Development

How to create a navigation app? Much like any other app, there are specific factors to consider. Here are some tips for when you need to develop a GPS navigation app:

Conduct Market Research

You absolutely should start by researching your target audience, your competitors, and your intended niche. It’ll help you to determine potential possibilities, risks, and weaknesses. At this stage, you’ll create a plan to be implemented in the next development phases. 

Select Your Trusted Dev Partner

How to create a GPS app or any other software, fussless? Find a trusted dev services provider. They will help you to cover the aspects you would not even think of. At this stage, you study, assess, and choose a company to team up with. Signing an NDA is also one of the key aspects.

Define Your Target Audience’s Needs to Meet

Since you already did your target audience research in the first phase, now you can proceed with learning what features your potential users may like. These days, most drivers expect an app to have smart navigation and notifications about traffic jams, speed cameras, gas stations, etc. The modern app should also be able to instruct drivers on how to reach the parking area and more. 

Plan Handy Features to Add

Do not overwhelm users with a pile of unnecessary features, especially in the first months after the release. Plan your MVP or just basic sets of features to add wisely, so it can represent your app at its best.

Add Gamification Functionalities

Gamification is what encourages the users to return to your app again and again. For example, add a points and achievements system. Users share road data or perform activities, and you reward them for their deeds. Integration of a leaderboard functionality may also be the right call.

Add Voice Directions Functionality

At this stage, you should plan and implement voice direction functionality. Make sure to play the voice directions at the exact right time. Users should have no distractions, and the recorded voice should not be irritating. 

Plan Your UI/UX Design Concepts

App buttons should be well-visible, fonts easy to read, colors contrast, and user flow should be solid. Concentrate on the basic app functionality. Ensure that your app is easy to use by implementing the best UI/UX practices. 

Create a Promo Video

If you want your GPS app to gain users quickly, don’t forget to add a video that displays how your software solution actually works. Without the video, Google or Apple may not even allow your app in their marketplaces.

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Develop a GPS Navigation App: Problems to Avoid or Address

Now, let’s proceed with reviewing some common mistakes and problems that you may face during the navigation app development. 

Topography and GPS Bouncing

Topography is about the area in which your GPS will be working. Keep in mind that areas with large population density make the signal reflect from different structures. The GPS receiver might get confused and require additional time or better signal to show an accurate location. 

Besides, you may also face an issue with GPS bouncing — the effect when the signal uncontrollably jumps from one place to another, making the app record inaccurate travel distance. 

Not Enough Satellites

Basically, a GPB app is expected to calculate a user’s location with an accuracy of 10 meters. This requires a strong signal from at least 7 satellites. The more, the better, since location accuracy very much depends on their signals. 

Outdated Maps

Take into account that the world’s infrastructure changes rapidly. So, you need to plan for ways of keeping your maps interactive and up-to-date. 

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Navigation App?

It’s hard to give a straightforward answer, since a lot depends on the details of your project. Here are the factors that impact the end cost of a navigation app:

  • Expertise of the developer team.
  • The number of developers.
  • The complexity of the project, including the number of features to be integrated.
  • The type of the app (native, web, cross-platform).
  • The urgency of your project.
  • How extensive the Quality Assurance testing is.
  • The cost of licenses for Application Programming Interface (API) to be integrated. 

The factors above basically come down to how much time your project will take and how much you will pay for every hour spent on it. A rough estimate is about 1,000 hours of work to bring your project to the production stage, which is $30,000 to $50,000. 

What Are the Best GPS Navigation Applications on the Market?

Let’s review the strongest competitors on the market to guide your navigation app development. 

  • Google Maps. This app is definitely the benchmark for competitors. It has tons of locations, street-level photography, and built-in review functionality. And it has accessibility features on top of that. For example, you can download a version for offline use.
  • Waze. Waze was also developed by Google. It’s slightly less popular than its predecessor, but is definitely catching up. It’s great for directions, especially on road trips. The app is excellent for checking for traffic jams, police locations, and various other types of useful info. Unlike Google Maps, Waze has appealing voices for navigation assistants.
  • MapQuest. This free navigation app has undergone multiple redesigns over the years. It employs the same old-fashioned turn-by-turn directions functionality. Live traffic updates, re-routing, and cheaper gas search options are available.
  • Maps.Me. This free navigation and GPS app has offline maps, turn-by-turn directions, offline searching, traffic data, and worldwide support. It’s a close competitor to Google Maps, and it should work for most people who do not click with the world-famous software provider.
  • Scout GPS. This one is an old app previously known as TeleNav. It changed its name and design to acquire a fresh look. It’s a completely reliable and stable app that incorporates the most basic functionalities. Yet, it focuses on social networking functionality, helping to connect with people around you, rather than delivering a fully-fledged navigation functionality.

In case you are serious about your project and looking for how to make a navigation app that would outperform the competitors, you should definitely research other popular GPS options.

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Consider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile App

Weelorum is a dev agency that raises the bar for development services higher. For us, the question of how to build a navigation app is never a problem due to our expertise and experience gained over the years on the market. 

You should trust deeds, not words. Check out some of our cases to learn more about our proficiency:

  • Spontivly. A social networking app that helps to create real-life connections based on your interest, availability, and location.
  • Pro Photo Shoot. A talent casting and networking app designed specifically for the professional photography niche.
  • Yellow Brick Cinema Music. An app that allows you to combine music, sounds, and beats to create your own relaxation mix.
  • Photocopy. An application for photographers and travelers where they can find the best photo spots on the map, connect with other photographers, and share their best works with the public.

Contact us if you need help with GPS application development or any other project, regardless of its complexity. 

Final Thoughts

The car market is expanding, and the number of vehicle owners is increasing for obvious reasons. Considering how useful and irreplaceable solid navigation apps are, they’ll be staying in vogue for years. So, if you’re wondering how to build a navigation app, it’s probably the right call. 

Trust your project to a reputable developer, and your GPS app will have a chance to outperform such well-established competitors as Google Maps or Waze.


How much does it cost to create a GPS app?

Depending on the complexity of the design and functionality of the app, the price may fall somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000 roughly.

Is it hard to develop a navigation app?

Since there are more factors to consider than coding and designing themselves, the creation of a functional GPS app may be difficult for a single developer.

How do I build a GPS app that will succeed on the market?

Carefully research the market, audience, and competitors, partner with a trusted provider, and implement useful functionalities.

Table of content
What Are GPS Navigation Apps and Why Are They Popular?What Are The Essential Features of Every Navigation Application?How to Create a Navigation App: Tips for DevelopmentDevelop a GPS Navigation App: Problems to Avoid or AddressHow Much Does It Cost to Create a Navigation App?What Are the Best GPS Navigation Applications on the Market?Consider Weelorum Your Trusted Partner in Developing Your Mobile AppFinal ThoughtsFAQ
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