What is a location SDK?

Find out exactly what a location SDK is, how a location SDK works and how exactly it can benefit location-based applications.

What is a location SDK?

In a previous article, we explored the larger question of “what is an SDK?”. Here we dive deeper into the specifics of what exactly a location SDK is, which data SDKs typically collect and how they can benefit location-aware applications across industries.

While GPS is the most well-known service, there are actually different sources and types of location data including Wi-Fi, beacons and bidstream. One of the most common and efficient ways to detect location data is using a location SDK.

What is a location SDK?

Location SDKs provide all the tools and documentation needed to detect and process accurate location data and location intelligence from a user’s device. In other words, a location SDK is a code that developers put into their applications to accurately collect and analyze user location data.

Location SDKs are used for a wide range of use cases from on-demand delivery tracking, targeted location-based advertising campaigns to simply and accurately showing a user’s location on the map. If you’ve ever been sent a friend's location, or tracked the food you just ordered as it comes to you, chances are a location SDK is behind it!

Each location SDK will have different capabilities depending on who is supplying the SDK. Some combine and process data from multiple sources to increase the accuracy and precision of native location data. Others are designed to be "always-on", even when the user is offline or the app is running in the background. And some are built specifically to process data into detailed location intelligence of the user's movements for marketing or ad campaigns.

Different location SDKs are suited for different use cases and no two are the same! So it’s important to evaluate what you need for your application before making your choice.

What are the benefits of location SDKs?

So why should you use a third-party location SDK instead of building your own solution?

Creating quality location-aware functionality from scratch can be costly and time-consuming. Using a pre-existing SDK can be a great alternative to building your own, with fast integration and reliable data to bring your location-aware app to life without the hassle.

Most importantly, high-quality location data is vital. Whether it's for location-based marketing campaigns or tracking a delivery, you need to ensure your data is accurate and consistent in order to deliver a great user experience and gain the insights you need. Location SDKs are designed in a way that allows you to always collect accurate and noise-free data that you can rely on.

5 industry use cases for location tracking SDKs

As approximately 4 out of 10 apps use location in one form or another, location SDKs can be utilized in a variety of everyday consumer apps, and can help streamline businesses with brand-new insights.

Here are just a few industry use cases that location SDKs can benefit:

  1. Ride-hailing and food delivery: Quality real-time location data is needed to accurately track a driver or passenger for a smooth handover, predict the ETA and optimize routes for the shortest delivery time possible.
  2. Fitness applications: Location SDKs are crucial to helping fitness app users accurately plan and track their exercise route and distance. Location data can also help in sending motivational “you can do it!” messages when a user reaches a certain distance.
  3. Fraud prevention: With mock location prevention and checking the user's location at the moment of payment, businesses can block or flag any transactions that are suspicious or geographically impossible.
  4. Logistics and fleet monitoring: Real-time, accurate and battery efficient location data is extremely useful for streamlining delivery and fleet movements. Also, with location-based insights, you can understand where your fleet needs to become more efficient.
  5. Location-based marketing: Target user’s at the right time using their physical location. For example, send a personalized discount when a user enters your store or send out reminders for your event when a user is close to the location.  

Roam.ai’s location SDK features

There are a variety of location SDKs on the market targeting different industries. So what makes Roam.ai’s SDK different?

We’ve designed a fully customizable SDK that solves the problems of inaccurate and battery-draining location tracking. Plus, we’ve made our technology extremely affordable to apps of any size.  

Here are some features of Roam.ai’s location SDK that directly bring value to apps:

  • Always-on: Guarantee no data loss with location tracking when the user’s application is closed or in the background - even when a user has no connectivity.  
  • Battery efficient: Don’t waste your user’s battery and lose their trust unnecessarily. With adaptive tracking modes, you can decide the amount of battery drain for your specific use case.
  • Accurate: Through combining sensors on the phone with GPS and WiFi, and removing any noisy data points with filters, we can guarantee an accuracy of up to 5 meters with no location updates delivered outside your desired range. Read more here.
  • Customizable: You can choose exactly what data you need from your users, at what time or distance intervals and how accurate you need the data to be. Plus, Roam.ai provides four location APIs including Trips and Geofencing, so you can create a complete and truly personalized location-based experience for any use case!
  • Optimized for all devices: With an iOS SDK and Android SDK optimized for broad integration across almost all devices, you can ensure that your location features work seamlessly for all your users.

What data does Roam.ai’s location SDK collect?

Location SDKs collect a lot more than simply latitude and longitude. Roam.ai’s location SDK collects a wide range of data with every location update. You can use this data to make informed decisions or build location tracking and other features into your app.

The data comes as a JSON file that you can customize depending on what data you need for your use case.

Data Explanation
Latitude Geographic coordinate north-south
Longitude Geographic coordinate west-east
Course Direction heading in relation to north
Speed Speed in kilometers per hour (only in motion)
Altitude Height above the sea level in meters
Horizontal accuracy Horizontal accuracy of the coordinates
Vertical accuracy Vertical accuracy of the coordinates
Activity Is the user moving or did they stop?
Recorded Location recorded at timestamp in UTC
Offset Location recorded at timezone
App context Application state
GPS status Is GPS tracking enabled?
Location permission Is location permission enabled?
Network status Is internet connection enabled?
Remaining battery Remaining battery in percentage
Battery saver Is battery saver mode enabled?
Battery status Is the battery charging?
OS version Current version of operating system
Device manufacturer Device manufacturer name
Device model Mobile device model



User privacy and location permissions

The ability to track and gain insights into a person's whereabouts is something that has rightly raised a number of privacy concerns. But there are a myriad of regulations and guidelines designed to protect users’ privacy.

Roam.ai’s SDK, for example, is GDPR- and CCPA-certified and commits to never sell or share location data to third parties. Instead, the SDK is designed to simply provide maximum value to use cases that many of us can’t live without. However, you always need to ensure you’re using an SDK from a trusted source!

Additionally, every location SDK code requires users to grant permissions at every stage of the process in order to function with the device. An app must request permissions for any kind of location tracking, either foreground or background. To read more about location permissions, check out the iOS and Android location permissions guidelines and Roam.ai’s blog post about location permission best practices.


What’s next?

Are you interested in integrating or improving your location-based app? Try out Roam.ai’s SDK for free or contact us today with any questions and we’re happy to help!