GPS, Wi-Fi, And Beacons- A Comparative Analysis

GPS, Wi-Fi, And Beacons- A Comparative Analysis

The location is becoming the mainstay of mobile app experiences as it facilitates the delivery of personalization to the users. The current app scenario is an extremely competitive one and there is a need to stand out in the crowd. An app needs to give a contextually relevant experience and location-based technology plays a key role in this regard. Combined with the innovation of the IoT, location-based apps are ready to take over the app space soon. For this reason, more and more businesses are hiring app developers to harness it for their business apps. They have three options in location-based technologies- GPS, Wi-Fi, and beacons. Each of these technologies has their own benefits and disadvantages. Here is a comparative analysis of all of them.

(1) GPS
GPS or Global Positioning System pinpoints the location of the user in proximity to a certain area. A majority of smartphone devices have an in-built GPS functionality. The GPS-based apps use the innovative geofencing technology. It applies the device coordinates to track the users and enable relevant actions based on their location. The technology is extremely versatile as it can power up local searches, navigation, location-based notifications, and much more.

Advantages

  • It is globally acclaimed and easily accessible, with most of the smartphone devices enabled with it
  • There is no constraint in terms of range as it offers exceptional outdoor performance
  • It is an opt-in technology, with the users being asked for explicit permissions
    GPS is cost-effective for the business

Disadvantages

  • It tends to lose its accuracy indoors when there are obstructions to signal reception
  • A resource-intensive technology, GPS results in rapid battery drain for the mobile devices
  • There may be issues related to location precision as compared to the other technologies

(2) Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is an infrastructural technology that allows mobile users to get connected to networks. These networks may be open or require some authentication measures, such as user names and passwords. Wi-Fi is being widely used by retail stores and business centers to enhance the level of customer services. For instance, when a customer comes in the vicinity of the store, its wi-fi tracks them and sends across push notifications on their devices.

Advantages

  • Wi-Fi is a standard feature that is available on all mobile devices
  • It serves as an excellent marketing tool for retail businesses that have the requisite infrastructure
  • The technology does not need a mobile application to run

Disadvantages

  • The biggest concern for Wi-Fi relates to privacy as the consumers are not explicitly asked permission before being connected with open networks
  • Wi-Fi is not feasible for context-aware messaging such as sending specific in-aisle notifications

(3) Beacons
Beacons, which employ the innovative Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, are the latest and perhaps the best in location-based technologies. Beacons are physical devices which receive and transmit signals and use them to trigger relevant actions and messages. A beacon-based mobile app is required to make these smart devices work. Like Wi-Fi, beacons to are installed in retail stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and business centers. As a customer with the mobile app is detected by them, they deliver personalized in-app messages and push notifications to them.

Advantages

  • Beacons facilitate customized targeting for a desired set of potential customers
  • The beacon-based apps have a low power usage which enables preservation of battery life
  • They offer high accuracy through proximity detection
  • It is a widely accessible technology that can be availed by any device that is enabled with location and Bluetooth features
  • It serves as the ideal option for context-aware messaging
  • Since it requires user consent, privacy is not a concern

Disadvantages

  • The range of beacons is lower than that of GPS
  • These are ideal for indoors but do not work well for outdoor environments
  • The technology works only for those users who have the corresponding app installed on their devices

The choice between these location-based technologies depends upon the individual types and requirements of a business. While GPS and Wi-Fi are the standard technologies, beacons make the ideal choice for those who want a powerful marketing support. The technology, which focuses on personalization, is the future of location-based marketing.

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