live location tracking features
Technology

Why building live location features requires more than maps APIs

The next generation of location-based services uses live location to make assignments, track orders, track miles, personalize experiences and power great product experiences. A fleeting glimpse by product managers and developers might lead to a false view that maps platforms are sufficient to build these features. This post covers what maps do and don’t.

Say you want to build an in-app tracking view of an order. It needs to be a smooth experience (think animated icons) with accurate location (route polylines maybe), live ETA (that updates every minute), user/order information (a drawer to reference) and trip status (why is it stuck there). To build this, what can developers count on maps for and not? Read on for the answers.

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streaming live location data
Technology

The pitfalls of using location streams as an interface for building live location features

Developers build live location features in their product because it is core to their business. In the process, they end up having to build infrastructure. Developers who have built and operated this underlying infrastructure on their own have a deeper experience of the pains involved. Often, this is the first time they start questioning if that part of the stack is core to their business and if there is an API for that. In the chance that they find HyperTrack as that API they were dreaming of, a new problem arises.

In many in-house location stacks, the de facto interface at which the infrastructure stops and the feature begins is the location stream. You generate the location stream on the device, log/store it on the server, and then consume it in the product. For enterprises using vehicle tracking systems (VTS) and GPS chips, there is a legacy reason to go down this path. When other teams and software modules in the stack are consuming this stream, it is hard to imagine ripping it out and replacing it with HyperTrack SDKs and APIs.

And then begins: “But it does solve a bunch of things we are dealing with”, “Hey they seem obsessed with it and we are not, they must know something we don’t”, “Let’s deploy it on that new feature or new set of users in that new project”, “Let’s run this in parallel with our stack and compare the results before phasing it in”, etc.

It is then that one of the two questions comes up:

  1. “Can we provide our location stream as input to your API and get your location stream as output?”
  2. “Can we use your location stream as input to our API and everything upstream will start working better?”

Tl;dr – Bad idea. Using location streams as the interface is architecture debt. Pay it off.

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Technology

Problem: location/maps APIs are inadequate for developers to build location tracking features

Over the past year, we have interacted with thousands of developers from over 30 countries and as many industries. These conversations have helped us understand the use cases that compel developers to build location tracking features into their products. Turns out, they are forced to build and operate complex location tracking infrastructure to make the features work.

HyperTrack APIs have been built to enable these use cases such that developers can focus on features that are core to their business and not have to worry about the infrastructure. In this post, we draw a distinction between location tracking features and infrastructure, and propose a better primitive to solve the problem. In the next post, we walk through the HyperTrack API framework and how the building blocks work for your use case.

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Technology

Tracking, the other side of navigation

Ever wondered how many people are out and about this moment, trying to get from one place to the other? How would you guesstimate the number of times they would go from one place to the other today? How many of these trips happen with a smartphone on their side? How many trips involve people waiting or trying to figure out how far it has reached?

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