Customizable industry-specific location tracking modes

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
July 12, 2022

If you’ve read our blog on how to save up to 90% battery life with location tracking technology you’ll be familiar with our three different tracking modes. If you haven’t, that’s okay, I’ll remind you of them (but please do):

  1. Active tracking: our most intense tracking mode gives location updates at a minimum of 25 meters intervals.
  2. Balanced tracking: the middle child, gives location updates at a minimum of 50 meters intervals.
  3. Passive tracking: the Chicken Joe from the 2007 animated film Surf’s Up of this group. It gives location updates at a minimum of 100 meters intervals. You may need to watch the film to get what I mean. Still don’t? Think of Crush the sea turtle from the 2003 Pixar animated film, Finding Nemo.
Chicken Joe & Crush

Although these tracking modes come with their default ranges and intervals that adapt to speed and behavior, accuracy is standard across all of them. On top of that, it’s possible to customize them to the preference of your business. Let’s walk through the customizability of our tracking modes, explore what you can do with them, and how they improve your app's performance and battery efficiency.

Distance & time intervals

There’s only one way to explain this because it’s pretty simple. You can pick up locations either through distance or time intervals. That means you can track a user's location every X meters or X seconds. This is completely dependent on the type of app you have built and the general use case you are trying to optimize. Let’s discuss the potential of using these intervals.

Customizing your distance & time intervals

You can tailor the way you want your app to pick up locations to optimize its performance. For example, if you want to have location updates every 15 minutes regardless of the distance that’s possible. Using time intervals like that could apply well to the logistics industry, where transportation over long distances doesn’t require the same frequent location updates as you would need for something like last-mile delivery. That will also help the performance of the mobile’s battery performance because the location updates are better spread, which the GPS will be thankful for.

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

Time intervals can also be used when a user is standing still. While stationary, location updates based on distance intervals will not be picked up. Then, the last location update will be assumed to be the current one until they’re moving again. If you’d still want to have a location update while the user is stationary, we have created a “stop interval” variable. You can define a time interval to be used when there is no movement detected. For example, you could use the Active Tracking Mode together with a 10-second Stop Interval. This will give you location updates every 25-250 meters when the user is traveling, and location updates every 10 seconds when the user is stationary.

But does that mean you can interchange between distance and time intervals? Yup, it’s essential for whenever a use case requires it (like the one I just illustrated). You can even use geofences to trigger the switches between both intervals. Imagine a courier on their way to pick up an order. Once they enter the geofence around a restaurant, the location updates can change from distance to time intervals while they remain in that geofence for the order to be finished and packed. Once they exit the geofence, it’ll automatically switch back to distance intervals. Again, the reason we value interchangeability is that it’s also battery efficient. Adapting to the frequency of required location updates needed puts less strain on that GPS. This is just one example of the nearly infinite possibilities our tracking modes offer.

Customizing your tracking modes

Now onto the tracking modes themselves. You can switch between tracking modes depending on what state the app is in and its usage. That switch can be triggered either through user input or automatically. Starting with user input, when a user is active on the app and performs an action, the tracking mode can be switched from passive to active. In ride-hailing for example, when the driver is off-trip and simply driving around the tracking will be balanced/passive, but when confirming a trip the tracking mode can be switched to active tracking. As for the automatic option, tracking modes can be switched when entering a geofence for example, where no user input is required.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Switching between tracking modes helps save battery. You can go from active tracking when the app is in the foreground, to passive tracking when the app is in the background. By not keeping the tracking in a stationary state you’re reducing the required battery performance needed to get location updates. Differentiating between off and on task saves battery.

The reason why we mentioned in the introduction that the intervals are at a “minimum of x meters” is because each of these tracking modes was built to adapt to a user’s speed. As a user moves faster, the distance between each location update increases automatically, and vice versa as the speed decreases. This allows for an even more battery-efficient tracking system, whereby we optimize the number of location updates only to collect location when it's needed. Again for the logistics industry, similar to the use of distance and time intervals, this adaptable tracking is helpful when transport is in a slow and highly congested area or when they’re on a highway going at faster speeds (who are we kidding, traffic exists).

Customization is for you

The moral of the story here is, that customization and adaptability go hand in hand because while we want to ensure that the location data is delivered consistently and reliably, battery and app efficiency are equally important. The underlying idea is that customization is there for any use-case a company might have, to the great benefit of developers who seek to make a more customized and tailored experiences for their customers. We’ve given examples from the ride-hailing, delivery, and logistics industries but there are plenty of scenarios where the customizability of our tracking modes is there to serve your business and to help your app perform better.

Want to know more about how our customizable tracking modes can help your business? Contact us today!

Unlock Location Technology

Marc Kranendonk
Marc Kranendonk
Content Manager
July 12, 2022