IF a mobile app wanted to show a "heat map" and with where its users were concentrated within a certain area, could it do so by using the GPS coordinates of the phone, provided everyone using the app had already given permission, or would it be too inaccurate as too many users might have location services off? Not for testing purposes but for reporting it back to the user. Something like the "popular times" data for a restaurant on google maps, especially the live data (which, unfortunately, isn't available on their google places api).

  • 1
    Given how privacy gets ever more attention in apps I suspect that an increasing number of users will turn location services off unless needed at that time. I lack hard data on that though.
    – Hennes
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 6:51
  • I agree with Hennes many users would not prefer sharing their location due to privacy issue. It's up to the user whether they prefer sharing their location. Can you tell what type of data are you trying to capture?
    – NB4
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 6:59

1 Answer 1


There's quite a lot of research into the subject, and the most commonly referenced is from the Pew Research Centre.

In April 2012 it was found that around 35% of users turn location services off.

A more recent piece of research from Pew suggests that significantly more people have it enabled, with GeoMarketing interpreting this as a 90%-enabled rate.

However, 10% of users is still significant. So to answer your question: No, you can't assume that location services is on.

But I also think that you're assuming that if they have location services on, the location will be accurate. GPS accuracy can vary based on location and time of day, as I found when creating a location-focused app last year.

Most location APIs can give you an approximation of the accuracy of the location data. You should use this value to mitigate inaccurate values, perhaps giving a higher weighting to more accurate values. But that's probably a discussion for StackOverflow :)

  • Great, you answered my question fantastically. Thank you!
    – Marcellus
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 23:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.