Geolocation on mobile devices

Internet issues

  • carmen
  • 19 Dec 2013
  • 21 comment

Lately mobile devices have incorporated processors that allow the management of global positioning by different technologies.

Nowadays the geolocation system using GPS technology is no longer exclusive for specific devices (GPS navigation). This system has become popular thanks to its integration into mobile devices. They have been so widely accepted that GPS equipment manufacturers are afraid that this will be the end of their devices.


Although one year ago the conflict between GPS providers would have seemed unthinkable, the truth is that the number of mobile terminals that offer geolocation services and maps is increasing. These services are called LBS services – Location Based Services. It is estimated that in 2014 there will be over 90% mobile devices with GPS tools.

What is geolocation?

This term is frequently related to GPS technology, but we should know that this is just a technology that allows geolocation.

The term, geolocation, refers to the ability to determine the position of an object or a person using their geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) on a regular map through any of the available technologies. This technology will determine the way in which we acquire the information necessary for the geolocation through the identification of the IP of a device connected to the Internet, the network provider or mobile device GSM network or through GPS.

Geolocation technologies

  • Through GPS: modern browsers allow to obtain information from a GPS receiver. This is very common in the case of mobile devices. It is the slowest method of all, but it’s very accurate. It is the most reliable and it provides the greatest coverage. GPS: Global Positioning System, is a network of 24 satellites placed in geostationary orbit at about 20,000 km from the Earth. They are provided with atomic clocks that allow them to transmit accurate time and position in space.
    Examples: dedicated devices, some smartphones, navigation systems.
  • Wi Fi networks Proximity: this technology analyzes the names and MAC addresses of the Wi Fi networks placed near us and these data allows us to find out exactly where we are. In some cases, when a device combines this technology with GPS, it can reload the database so we can find the information about where the different wireless networks are. There is an hybrid system that combines this technology with GPS. It can be the best solution for indoor geolocation, where the GPS signal is weak or non-existent.
    Examples: smartphones.
  • Mobile repeater triangulation: this method is mostly used on mobile devices’ browsers. It’s based on the relative distance to several cell phone towers. This system is fast, but very expensive (some companies block the access because the cost isn’t very competitive). Its accuracy is great if we are in an urban environment where there are many phone towers, but if we are in a rural area we will have problems when locating our position.
    Example: mobile with the two last generations, some smartphones use it as an alternative, 3G connections.
  • IP Address: this technology is the least accurate and it’s used for a long time now. It uses the IP address associated with your service provider (ISP). There are many scripts and new standards that offer location through the IP address, but it isn’t well accepted because of its inaccuracy (if we are connected through a proxy or a tunnel it will give us the location of this IP instead of ours).
    Examples: computers and devices with Internet connection.

Geolocation on social networks

According to a study published by Pew Internet & American Life Project, three out of ten social network users have created their accounts to include their location into their status updates. It isn’t surprising that the users that are more prone to use location services on social networks are young users.

There are 34% of North American users aged between 18 and 49 years and 26% of users aged between 50 and 64 years that use geolocation services on social networks. When talking about mobile location-based services, they’re much more common among mobile users.

us social media users who use geolocation-based services

There are 76% of male mobile users and 72% female mobile users that use location based services on their smartphones or tablets. These services are quite popular among all kinds of audiences. Nonetheless, 80% of mobile users aged between 18 and 29 years use location-based services, versus 65% of mobile users aged between 50 and 64 years.

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  1. Megan 06/12/2011 at 06:46:06 Responder

    Thank you for this info. I had some doubts about these type of technologies about geo location and you made clear them.

  2. phone deals 12/12/2011 at 05:29:36 Responder

    I just could not leave your website prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual information a person provide in your visitors? Is gonna be back ceaselessly in order to check out new posts

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  6. Susan 26/12/2011 at 09:14:19 Responder

    Thank you for share this article with all blog community. I think it is required some articles like this one so specific and didactic. It is full of good comments and useful information. Bookmark your blog!

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  8. David 26/01/2012 at 02:37:21 Responder

    geolocation service is increasingly available worldwide. Time ago people had a few browser geolocation but thanks to mobile phones now no one is lost any more. now we have to see how it evolves this technology in mobile telephony, how is getting better suited signal receivers, batteries, etc..thank you

  9. Oscar 26/01/2012 at 04:32:52 Responder

    geolocation should be used to provide more social services rather than commercial. is a technology that has great potential and could help many people. For example, Alzheimer patients, battered women, etc.. not everything is money.

  10. Paola 31/01/2012 at 10:53:19 Responder

    This post has helped me better understand this issue. Thank you for sharing this information.

  11. Megan 16/05/2012 at 02:39:15 Responder

    Geolocation is a technology that can be helpful for many aplicacioes and services, also on mobile phones.Great info

  12. Pep Cester 16/05/2012 at 02:40:26 Responder

    Valuable information for developers. Thanks for analyzing the difference between geolocation solutions.

  13. Tom Valy 16/05/2012 at 02:41:03 Responder

    Good job with this analyse. Bookmarked your blog!

  14. Victor 14/09/2012 at 05:51:38 Responder

    Thank you for sharing this useful information.It helped me to know which technology to use in my windows phone apps.

  15. Mary C. 18/09/2012 at 03:15:10 Responder

    You’re welcome Victor! Mobile technology has several interesting points that we love to talk about. Pleased to be helpful for you.

  16. eng:Alia 14/11/2012 at 19:49:16 Responder

    thank you for information what i want to know
    do you have a good reference to know this “use geolocaion services in network” thnx so much

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  18. Oswald P. 02/08/2013 at 03:10:59 Responder

    Google maps is the best geolocation app and it’s very useful when going on trips.

  19. Marion C. 03/09/2013 at 07:19:36 Responder

    I thought only PCs had ip adresses. Now I feel stupid…

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