Vilmate Blog

How to make a location-based app
similar to Foursquare or Yelp?

geolocated applocation-based appTechnologies

Yelp and Foursquare are the most famous examples of location-based apps as they get more than 140 million unique users per month each. These apps help in navigating people’s moving as their database has a plenty of useful information.

According to the statistics, people look for restaurants and cafes most of all (75%), 60% of users inquire about shops, clubs, saloons and different services. Around 40% of users want to find auto services or hotels. Fewer people, 30%, are interested in cultural establishments. These numbers show what people need most and what we should emphasize in creating location-based apps.

location based apps statistics

It is worth mentioning that people are not only interested in finding some places. The owners of such places get some profit from these apps too as higher rating means more clients. For example, if a restaurant gets one more star, the number of customers will grow up to 8%. Another way to attract more clients is posting an advertisement in these apps. Even though it is not free, the benefit from it will be high, it might bring $20 000 per annum more with the advertisement.

The existence of Yelp and Foursquare does not discourage people from creating location-based apps. On the contrary, more and more people are interested in it. That is why we've decided to describe in detail how to make an app like Yelp and how to make an app like Foursquare.

This article has the following structure:

1. Geolocated apps

    • Description
    • Special features of Foursquare or Yelp

2. User’s part and payment

    • User flow
    • Monetizing

3. Creation

    • Costs
    • Process itself

4. Conclusion

Geolocated Apps

More than 1.2 billion people travel every year. Usually, people do not know places they visit well enough. They can buy a map of this place and explore it themselves or use an app to make everything much easier. However, location-based apps come in handy not only in new cities, but also in hometowns as there are always a big variety of places to visit. Users do not know even a half of them. That is why it is useful for them to read comments concerning places they are interested in and to see the number of their stars.

Description. Geolocated apps consist of two parts: maps and database (establishments, their ratings and comments left by previous users). Users can download this kind of apps or use web apps to look round the city and to see what they have not far from their hotels. They can find some places knowing their address or with the help of location.

However, this can work only when they know where they are going. If no, they read the description of some places nearby and read what other people think about them; then they choose a place.

Special features. Yelp and Foursquare have a number of features that go down very well with customers. It’s necessary to mention that users can sign up for leaving comments, rating different establishments and talking to other people; however, it is possible to find the necessary information without being signed up. Let us look at some features:

1. compliment feature

2. account advantages

3. useful information

Compliment feature shows what other people think about comments of one person. This feature helps users to understand whether they can trust these comments or not as comments should be reasonable.

Having an account enables users to have friends and to see how many people have visited their profile. They can also see the number of friends and visitors of other people. If using their Facebook account, users also see where their friends go.

These apps provide some useful information. Besides working hours users can see the menu or its part and at least approximate prices. They also get information concerning reservation, parking, Wi-Fi, accepting different ways of payment, having alcohol or place for dancing.

Yelp is monthly visited by 145 million people and Foursquare has 55 monthly active users. These numbers show that the apps are successful and the features listed above contribute to this statistics. That is why more and more people are interested how to create a location-based app. We will explain it in some steps.

User’s Part and payment

Location-based app development is becoming more and more popular. These apps have different structures but we will describe them using their common features.

User flow. Let’s imagine a user decides to go to a new city and is looking for a nice hotel to stay at. First, he chooses his destination, then the establishment he is looking for (cafe, restaurant, gym, hotel). Money is an important factor here so he chooses how expensive this place could be (inexpensive, moderate, or pricey), there are some more features if needed like Wi-Fi, late working hours, and neighborhood. The user sees some variants that might suit him.

After looking at pictures of these hostels, reading comments about them the user makes his choice. There is the map of the hostel and its address and phone number to find out the price and the details the user is interested in. Then he comes to the hostel itself. After it he might register in the app he has used, and leave a nice comment about this place.

The same steps are taken for finding a cafe or any other establishment. However, sometimes users do not look for something in advance. They might be walking in a new city during a business trip and decide to have a cup of coffee. They just open your app, it finds their location and shows what cafes there are close to them. After using filters, reading comments and looking at photos, they go to this cafe and spend hopefully a nice hour in a well-chosen place.

location based app development

Monetizing. In 2017 Yelp earned 714 million dollars and Foursquare will soon reach 100 million dollars in revenue. There are some ways of monetizing a geolocation-based app development:

1. advertising

2. reservation

3. sponsored search

4. in-app purchasing

5. premium version

Advertising is one of the most popular ways to get profit from your app. Owners of some establishments pay for having their cafes or restaurants shown on certain pages. Advertising gives the biggest part of the profit of such apps.

Reservation lets people reserve for example tables in a cafe online for paying monthly a certain sum.

Sponsored search means showing certain establishments on the first page. Sponsored search along with advertising is the main source of Yelp and Foursquare income.

In-app purchasing enables users to get more possibilities while using their apps.

Premium version means seeing no disturbing ads after buying it.

The most beneficial ways of monetizing location-based apps are sponsored search and advertisement (15 and 70 %) as owners are ready to pay to attract more customers who use such apps. However, other ways can bring some profit, too, so you should think what the users of your app might need.

Another question is how users pay. First of all, it is impossible to get some apps for free. However, this might discourage people from getting one, so there should be other possibilities they pay for like premium versions, in-app purchasing and reservation.


You might have at least two questions when you look for location-based app development: how much it costs and how exactly it works.

Costs. There are different ways to create location-based apps and they all influence the price and the time it takes. The first question is whether you prefer MVP or full functional. It might be a bit better to begin with MVP version as it is not that complicated. It has only necessary features like security and access control and because of that, it's cheaper than a full functional version where users see a lot more features (for example, changing background). However, you will be able to improve your MVP version later.

The approximate cost for location-based app development would be $25 000-30 000. The approximate time would be 4-6 month. The price and time period depend on the app itself and on the operating system you choose. Android app development costs, for example, a bit more compared to iOS. Moreover, it is not the work for only one expert but for 4 or even 5 because they have to deal with different parts of app development if it is not a web app: back-end, front-end, mobile iOs or mobile Android and QA specialists. Keep in mind that this concerns MVP. Its functional prototype would require more money and work depending on the complexity.

Process itself. First of all, we need a map and the user’s location on this map. Nowadays we have several solutions to this issue. First of all by using Google Maps. Waze and Mapbox (Foursquare uses Mapbox) are also popular in this sphere. They share a lot of features but they also have something different. For example, Mapbox supports map styles and Google Maps does not.

Using maps for location-based app development is not free, that is why you have to choose a map with the features that would suit your app best. If you do not want to use such maps, you can have a map created especially for your app.

Besides the map and the user’s location, we need a database. We can use the database we create or from special sources. This database includes some general information about establishments, their rating and left comments. It is possible to get this information from Foursquare, under some circumstances it would be even free of charge. However, for some data, it will be necessary to pay.

If you have decided to make a location-based app and maybe have some ideas, contact us and we will develop a great app! We have the necessary experience in this sphere, here is one of our projects.

(с) 2017, Vilmate LLC


How to create an app like Foursquare

To get your project underway, simply contact us and
an expert will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
Hör av dig!
Vi diskuterar gärna ditt projekt med dig
Skicka iväg en rad till oss så kontaktar vi dig så snart vi kan.