Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Location Based Services and SmartPhone Apps

Fifty-eight percent of US smartphone users have used apps with location-based services (LBS). So says a recent survey by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), as reported in the July 27, 2012 issue of Processor Magazine.

LBS allows developers to use GPS as well as cell tower information from users' smartphones and tablets, and to weave location-based processing into their apps.

For example, take a look at InstaTodo, a handy To-Do program for the iPhone and iPad that employs reusable templates to make it quicker to create To-Do lists. If you're walking around town and getting caught up on your errands, InstaTodo can show you a list of all of the outstanding tasks that are located near your current location. You can even see your outstanding tasks displayed as balloons on a map.

ISACA's survey shows that lots of users are concerned about having LBS apps on their smartphones -
  • 24 percent worry about strangers knowing where they are.
  • 24 percent are concerned that marketers are going to use their location information.
  • 21 percent worry about their personal safety.
Slightly more than half of the people surveyed (54 percent) think that the risks and benefits of LBS apps are roughly equal. Twenty-two percent think that the risks are too high, compared with 17 percent who believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Seven percent of the people surveyed didn't express an opinion on the risk and benefit balance of LBS processing.

If you're going to market an app with LBS-based features, then use your website's sales presentation to ease people's fears.
  • Say exactly what you're going to do with the information that you use in your LBS calculations.
  • Make it possible for people to opt out of the LBS-based feature.
  • Say that you'll erase the location information when the user closes the app.
  • Assure users that you don't pass their location information to anybody else.
Eliminate the fear, and you'll sell more software.

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