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How to Make a Navigation App like Google Maps?

How to Make a Navigation App like Google Maps?

Estimated read time: 13 minutes
Faiza Khalid

Faiza Khalid

CIS engineerDeveloperTech Writer

Are you wondering 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. If you are also looking to mark your share in the growing market, a navigation app with engaging features for end users is a viable option to undertake. Let’s see how you can make an appealing navigation app.

Make a Navigation App like Google Maps

Navigation apps provide real-time travel directions and information on locations. They also offer services to hire transportation. Google Maps is the leading GPS navigation app service in the market, followed by the Waze app, MapQuest, and ride-hailing apps with GPS services, like Uber.

You can make a navigation app like Waze or Google Maps by taking the following steps:

Perform Market Research and Decide on Project Scope

We would suggest you thoroughly study the navigation apps market to analyze competitors and current market trends. You should also understand target audience demographics, end users’ interests, etc. Your market research would help you refine your app idea to meet market requirements.

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

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

  • The geolocation feature shows users routes to reach from one location to another. It indicates the shortest route and estimated travel time with the available modes of transportation. 77% of smartphone users regularly use a navigation app for traveling. 
  • Real-time updates show traffic conditions along the way. The feature uses a GPS to display a real-time 360-degree view of the location, including nearby shops, restaurants, buildings, etc. A survey shows 34% of app users use a navigation app en route.
  • Push 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. A research finding indicates that over the time of two months, a single push notification sent during the first week after app installation increased app retention rates by 71%.
  • 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. Ease of navigation is nearly two times as important as any other navigation app feature for users.
  • 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 would 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 can help you make a navigation app like Google Maps. You would 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 with experience in the mobile app industry 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 should 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. 

According to The State of Agile report, 58% of agile users use scrum and its variant methodologies. 70% of users stated the ability to manage changing priorities as the top benefit of adopting agile.

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. 85% of scrum teams use daily standups as the most used agile technique. 

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

Provision of Software Development Infrastructure

You would provide your software developers and testers with the app development infrastructure. We would suggest that you choose a cloud computing architecture for your navigation mobile app development. 

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. They can use the latest technologies with minimum startup costs and easily scale up and down their cloud resources as per business requirements.

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.

For example, you can opt for Google Firebase, a leading MBaaS, and take advantage of the following:

  •  Your developers can use the Google Firebase platform as a serverless backend for your mobile application. They can rapidly create the whole app front-end without any server-side code.
  • You get access to highly scalable and flexible NoSQL databases; Realtime Database for real-time data access and CloudStore to store data in documents and collections.
  • It offers multiple built-in functionalities like cloud messaging, authentication, hosting, etc., that would let your developers focus on the development of the core navigation app features.

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

Design your Navigation App

Your UI/UX designers would design your navigation app frontend layout. Designers create 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. For example, your designers should follow Human Interface Guidelines by Apple for iOS and Material Design Guidelines for Android apps.

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 can use tools like FlowMapp to create user journeys and Adobe Creative Cloud to create app design prototypes. Adobe Creative Cloud offers the following features:

  • You get access to a range of AI-powered Adobe design tools like PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc., to design app components such as icons, menus, logos, etc.
  • It offers increased collaboration opportunities where designers can co-edit a design document and easily share libraries, documents, etc., on the cloud.
  • You can easily integrate third-party design and collaboration tools and a range of built-in plugins for user flows, video animations, etc., and accelerate the app UI design process.

Develop a Minimum Viable Product

Your mobile app developers would develop the core features for your navigation app and perform backend integrations. 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 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. iOS was responsible for 63% of the total app revenue in 2021. Android app revenue was also improved by 58.2%.

You would require mobile app developers with the following skillset for iOS and Android app development.

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 can use MapKit API by Apple to display satellite imagery or maps in your navigation iOS app. Moreover, Core Location API by Apple would 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 would 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.

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

Moreover, your app developers can use APIs like Google Maps, Google Location Services, Google Distance Matrix, MapView 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. Hybrid apps save more than 30% of the app development time. You can later build 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 would use web-based technologies to build cross-platform apps. They should use programming languages like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. 

Frameworks like Xamarin and APIs like Mapbox, Google Maps, etc., help build hybrid GPS navigation apps quickly. Xamarin would offer the following features to your hybrid app developers:

  • It offers full access to native app development tools for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.
  • Xamarin offers a managed development environment to developers with features like memory allocation, garbage collection, etc.
  • Developers can take advantage of immense code reusability as Xamarin allows users to reuse 90% of their application code across multiple platforms.

Mobile Database Technologies

Your mobile app would 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 data storage; offline, online, or synchronized, etc.

Your app developers should also perform data modeling to define data elements and their relationships in the context of business requirements. Your database model would help visualize business logic for 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. Your navigation app developers can use the following database technologies:

  • MongoDB Realm for an on-device database in which you can directly store and access data objects with flexible sync capabilities via an offline-first model. This feature would help you build offline access to saved maps for app users ;
  • Amazon DynamoDB for continuous reads and writes and capabilities like auto-scaling, backup, memory management, etc.;
  • Riak for storage and built-in session-related data with high availability, scalability, etc.

Latest Technologies

The latest technologies, like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, etc., help build advanced features in a navigation app. ML algorithms can track user activity on your navigation app, understand user behavior, and offer a personalized user experience. 

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. 

Your developers can use tools like the Google Cloud AI platform to build an advanced navigation app. 

Developers can build, train, and deploy new or existing models for image recognition, video analysis, etc., required to build a real-time navigation feature. It also offers open-source integrations, including Keras, TensorFlow, etc., to accelerate the development process.

Augmented reality helps enhance the real-world experience by augmenting it with digital visual content. For example, 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 ARKit and ARCore would help your developers build AR-based navigation app features. 

ARKit is an augmented reality platform by Apple for iOS devices. It uses device sensors and cameras to interact with the real world. Your developers can use it for image tracking and recognition while creating immersive navigation experiences for users in real time. 

Similarly, ARCore is an alternative AR platform for Android devices. It uses different APIs to sense users’ surroundings. Its three main capabilities of motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation would help your developers create and add virtual content to the real world and offer an enhanced experience to your navigation app users.

Test your Navigation App MVP

Your application testers should conduct comprehensive testing of your navigation app under various business scenarios such as application performance under variable user load, app security against different cyber vulnerabilities, scalability of app resources, the usability of app features, etc.

Multiple software tools would 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 are met as planned, your developers should deploy your navigation app in the user market. 

Developers publish an Android app on Google Play Store and an iOS app on Apple Store while following the respective publishing guidelines by Android and Apple.

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

DevOps tools like Amazon Developer Tools would help your developers implement DevOps practices in the mobile app development lifecycle. For example, your developers can use AWS CodePipeline for fast application and infrastructure updates, CodeBuild to manage build services such as source code compilation and packaging, CodeDeploy to rapidly deploy new app features, etc.

Monitor and Support

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

You should include 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 should 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 should offer features that stand out in the market and keep your audience engaged. You would 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 DevTeam.Space 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 team’s 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 would first perform market research on your navigation app idea and refine it according to the end users’ needs and market trends. We suggest you partner with expert mobile app developers to build app features, perform integrations, design a database model, and publish your navigation app in mobile 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 with basic features 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 would need experienced software developers such as those available at DevTeamSpace.

3. What makes a successful GPS navigation app?

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


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