How to Make a Navigation App like Google Maps?

How to Make a Navigation App like Google Maps?
Faiza Khalid
CIS engineer | Developer | Tech Writer

Do you want to explore how to make a navigation app?

The navigation app market size is expected to reach a market value of 1.54 billion US dollars by 2026, with an annual growth rate of 9.37% between 2022 and 2026. Most revenue is generated in the United States, with 346.10 million US dollars in 2022.

The statistics show profitable opportunities for business owners and investors in the navigation software market.

Make a Navigation App like Google Maps

Navigation apps provide real-time travel directions, information on locations, and services to hire transportation.

Google Maps is the leading successful GPS navigation app service in the market, followed by the Waze app, MapQuest, and ride-hailing apps with GPS services, like Uber.

You will make a navigation app like Waze and Google Maps by taking the following steps:

Perform Market Research and Decide on Project Scope

You will study the navigation apps market to analyze competitors, current market trends, target audience demographics, end users’ interests, etc. Your market research will help you understand user needs and refine your app idea to meet them.

You will decide the features you want to include in your navigation app. The functional and non-functional requirements will finalize the scope of your navigation app development project. 

A navigation app like Google Maps has the following key features:

  • The geolocation feature shows user routes to reach from one location to another. It indicates the shortest route and also all the available modes of transportation. This feature also shows estimated arrival time with all transportation modes, like by bus, train, car, etc.
  • The rerouting feature is important as it reroutes the path for users when they take a wrong route, miss a turn, etc., on their way to the destination.
  • Real-time Updates show traffic conditions along the way. The feature uses a GPS system to display a real-time 360-degree view of the location, including nearby shops, restaurants, buildings, etc. 
  • Notifications are an effective way to keep users active on your app. You can send personalized notifications to users depending on their current location, previous visits to places, etc.
  • Voice Navigation is important as it helps drivers immensely in following the map directions. They can concentrate on the road while the voice navigation feature guides them through the routes.
  • Payment Service integration assists users to make in-app purchases such as hotel reservations, unlocking premium features, etc.

These are some of the many features that you can add to your navigation app. You will add these project functional and non-functional requirements in a system requirements specification document and share it with your development team.

Form a Navigation App Development Team

A professional team of app developers and testers will help you make a navigation app like Google Maps. You will require the following roles:

  • A UI/UX designer designs the app’s user interface;
  • An Android developer builds a mobile app for Android OS;
  • An iOS developer develops a mobile app for iOS devices;
  • An app tester tests software apps for smooth performance without any bugs;
  • A project manager manages the whole product development team, implements a project management framework, gives timeline estimates, etc.;
  • A business analyst analyzes your business app, studies the target market, and helps you improve your business growth in the user market.

Select Navigation App Development Methodology

Your app development team will follow a software development methodology to seamlessly gather application requirements, design app layout, develop app features, test app performance, and deploy the app within the estimated time. 

Agile methodology is commonly used in the mobile app development process. An agile development framework like scrum effectively manages volatile user requirements and frequently changing trends in the mobile app market.

Scrum framework divides the complete app development process into multiple iterations called sprints. Developers build high-priority features in the initial sprints and deploy them in the user market. 

Scrum teams are small, cross-functional, and consist of developers, testers, and a scrum master (project manager). A scrum team conducts daily and weekly scrum meetings to keep the project’s progress on track, discuss roadblocks and solutions, etc.

Our article on how to build an agile development team will help you understand agile development in more detail.

Provision of Software Development Infrastructure

You need to provide your software developers and testers with the app development infrastructure. These include app hosting servers, database solutions, memory management, development IDEs, deployment tools, etc.

Cloud computing technologies such as infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, etc., help businesses introduce agility in their development process, use the latest technologies with minimum startup costs, and easily scale up and down their cloud resources as per business requirements, etc.

Your developers can use a mobile backend as a service for a navigation app. An MBaaS is a cloud computing architecture for mobile applications that manage all the backend service for developers, such as database management, API management, app security, push notifications, etc.

A mobile backend as a service is serverless, increases developers’ productivity, offers faster time-to-market, etc.

Some of the leading MBaaS providers include Google FirebaseApple CloudKitAWS Amplify, etc. 

Read our article on how to choose a mobile backend as a service for more details.

Design your Navigation App

Your UI/UX designers will design your navigation app frontend layout. They will design UI components, their placement on the app screen, visual theme, color palette, etc.

App designers follow UI/UX principles to design a user interface that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.

UI/UX designers create app layout wireframes and mockups that explain user interaction with a software application in the form of user flows. 

Our article on 15 user flow examples to use discusses some app user flows for inspiration.

Your app designers will use tools like FlowMapp, Justinmind, etc., to create user flows and journeys. Tools like Adobe Creative CloudMicrosoft Visio, etc., will help your UI/UX professionals to create app design prototypes.

Develop a Minimum Viable Product

Your mobile app developers will develop the core features for your navigation app, perform backend integrations, etc. We would advise you to develop a minimum viable product for your navigation app first.

A minimum viable product or an MVP contains all the essential features of a software application. You will deploy the MVP and gather user feedback.

Developers incorporate user feedback on app features into the next iterations and the software application continuously improves according to customer expectations.

The two categories of mobile applications are native apps and hybrid apps. 

Native Mobile Apps

A native mobile application is built for a specific mobile operating system. It is able to use device-specific software and hardware and delivers optimized performance.

The two main operating systems for mobile devices are iOS and Android. Both iOS and Android mobile app development require a specific skill set.

iOS Navigation App Development

Developers use Objective-C or Swift programming languages to code iOS mobile apps. Apple supports and recommends Swift for iOS development. 

Your developers will use XCode IDE to design, code, and test a navigation iOS app. It offers a feature-rich compiler and debugger. The code correction option helps developers write clean and concise code.

Moreover, your developers will use MapKit API by Apple to display satellite imagery or maps in your navigation iOS app. Core Location API by Apple will help gather geographic information of a device using a Wi-Fi internet connection, Bluetooth, etc., using cell ID functionality from mobile operators.

Android Navigation App Development 

Your Android developers will use Kotlin or Java programming languages. Java, being platform-independent, is a leading Android development language for a long time.

However, Kotlin is now getting popular to build Android apps. It is completely interoperable with Java programming language.

You can read our article on Java vs. Kotlin for more details.

Your developers will use IDEs like EclipseAndroid Studio, etc., to code and debug Android apps efficiently. Your developers should also be familiar with supporting tools like AVD ManagerAndroid Debug Bridge, etc.

Moreover, your app developers will use APIs like Google MapsGoogle Location ServicesGoogle Distance MatrixMapView class, and Android location packages to build geolocation and other navigation app features in an Android application.

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Hybrid or cross-platform apps run on every platform. Developers write app code once and wrap it in a container to run on various native devices. 

You can build your MVP as a hybrid app so that most end users can use it and provide you with their feedback. You can then make a navigation app with a complete set of features as a native app to offer maximum app performance and user experience.

Your hybrid app developers will use web-based technologies to build cross-platform apps. They will use programming languages like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. 

Frameworks like React NativeIonicXamarin, etc., and APIs like MapboxGoogle Maps, etc., will help build hybrid GPS navigation apps.

Mobile Database Technologies

Your mobile app will require a database to store data and make it available in proper format when needed. 

Your choice of a mobile database depends on various factors, including the structure of your business data, the size of your data, speed requirements for data access, the format of location data storage; offline, online, or synchronized, etc.

Your app developers will also perform data modeling to define data elements and their relationships in the context of business requirements. 

Your database model will help visualize business logic for user location-based features, search queries for GPS data, etc.

Database developers implement and manage data models in database management systems. 

Different database technologies have unique characteristics. Mobile applications mostly use a combination of databases. For example, MongoDB helps maintain big unstructured data, MySQL manages large volumes of structured data, etc.

Your navigation app developers can use MongoDB Realm for scalability, Amazon DynamoDB for continuous reads and writes, Riak for built-in search, etc.

Latest Technologies

The latest technologies, like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, etc., help build advanced features in your navigation app. 

Machine learning help utilize the large amounts of business data available today for increased business insights and intelligence. Machine learning models read data, understand patterns in data values, and predict future trends. 

Similarly, ML algorithms can track user activity on your navigation app, understand user behavior, and offer a personalized user experience. 

Your developers will use tools like the Google Cloud AI platformApache MahoutTensorFlow, etc., to build advanced applications.

Augmented reality helps enhance the real-world experience by augmenting it with digital visual content. Your developers can build AR features to help user tour a location while sitting at home to help them prepare well before setting on their journey.

Software tools like ARKitARCore, Kudan, etc., will help your developers build AR-based navigation app features.

Test your Navigation App MVP

Your application testers will conduct comprehensive testing of your navigation app. They will test features built by developers to perform as expected in various business scenarios. 

Testers will also test application performance under variable user load, security against different cyber vulnerabilities, scalability of app resources, usability of app features, etc.

Multiple software tools will help perform QA of your navigation application, such as Appium for native and hybrid apps, XCTest and XCUITest for iOS apps, Espresso for Android apps, etc.

Deploy your Navigation Application

Once you are sure that the functional and non-functional requirements of your mobile application perform as planned, your developers will deploy your navigation app in the user market. 

Developers publish an Android app on Google Play Store and an iOS app on Apple Store. They will follow the respective publishing guidelines of Android and Apple.

A DevOps pipeline will help your developers efficiently manage code repositories, automatically test app code, continuously deploy and integrate app features, etc. 

Tools like Amazon AWS MobileMicrosoft Visual Studio App CenterGoogle Firebase, etc., will help your developers implement DevOps practices in the mobile app development lifecycle.

Monitor and Support

Your project team will continue to monitor app performance in the user market. User feedback on app stores and via in-app survey forms will help you identify performance issues and functionality limitations.

You will include the user feedback in your next development iterations and improve the navigation app as per market demands.

App maintenance is an essential part of mobile app growth. You will set a maintenance schedule with your developers to keep your navigation app up to date with the latest software versions and hardware updates.

Ready to Make your Own Navigation App?

The mobile app market is quite saturated. You will offer features that stand out and keep your audience connected with the mobile app. You will require top-quality software development and management talent to develop such a successful mobile application.

We would advise you to partner with a software development company experienced in mobile app development. 

Why not take a look at DevTeamSpace and hire developers from our field-expert software developers community? You can either outsource your entire navigation app development project or hire mobile app developers and testers according to your requirements.

All our developers are vetted for their software development skills and expertise in cutting-edge technologies to develop next-level software solutions.

You can easily partner with these app developers by sending us your initial project specifications.

 One of our account managers will get back to you to discuss in detail how we can help you build a market-competitive navigation mobile app.

FAQs on How to Make a Navigation App

1. How do you create a navigation app?

You will first perform market research on your navigation app idea and refine it according to the end users’ needs and market trends. You will need to partner with expert mobile app developers to build app features, perform integrations, design A database model, and publish a navigation app in app stores as per their guidelines.

2. Can I make my own maps app?

You can use app builders to make a simple map app in a short time. However, if you wish to deploy GPS apps for actual users with complex features, like user messages, voice-based GPS navigation, etc., and monetize them, you will need experienced software developers such as those available at DevTeamSpace.

3. What makes a good GPS navigation app?

A GPS app features like a voice-based navigation guide, real-time traffic updates, route recommendations, available modes of transportation, offline maps access, etc., make a good navigation app.

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