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I'm not a mobile phone poweruser, so please bear with me.

Let's say I'm developing an app whose sole purpose is to display the closest FloridaBestTacos restaurants to my current location of Florida. It will have the usual list (closest first) and a map with the markers.

My question: do users frown upon an app that requires the user to enable "Current Location" to the point that the app cannot be used unless current location is enabled?

I've been researching apps and haven't found a single popular app (with map and markers) that actually requires current location to be enabled.

I've also been trying to search for apps that are location-specific (ie. a map that just works in Texas), but haven't had much luck either.

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I'd say its good to be up-front with users and actually talk about location.

Context

Most "mapping" apps are owned by the device maker eg Apple Maps, Google Maps and you give them access in the device TOS. So in those cases they don't ask for permissions.

However, newly installed 3rd party apps on current versions of iOS (13) & Android (10) are required to ask for location access as part of the store guidelines. This is to give users some semblance of control around their personal data. If you don't see that request, it's likely that you provided blanket permission at an earlier install date.

So baically you have to ask

How and when you ask are up to you

You don't have to ask for permission when the app is installed. You can wait until location access actually makes sense. In your case that would be after a person decides they want food. You also get the option to put instructions/context on the screen for the user.

Take these two examples:

Facebook would like to access your device's location: Yes | No

"Umm why does Facebook need my location???? No Way..." (last I checked Facebook actually does it that way)

Tacos sound great, but to show you tacos close by we'll need to know your location. We're not tracking your location and don't share it with anyone else. But if you're not comfortable with that, you could just give us a zip code to search for tacos. However, it won't be as accurate and you may have to walk further for amazing taste.

FlordiasBestTacos would like to access your devices location: Yes | No

"yeah you know I'm hungry now and want the closest good tacos. Of course I'll give you access!"

Mom always said, "it's not what you say it's how you say it." I think the same goes for how you ask for things. Make a good arguement and let people decide based on merits. Just make sure to provide a decent if not perfect fallback.

  • Thanks for your answer. The issue is that I don't know what to display if the user does not enable location access. – rbhat Nov 22 at 20:32
  • Let's say the user does not enable location services, should the list display all the locations in Florida? Will the map display all of Florida and all the location markers? – rbhat Nov 22 at 20:33
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    Why not do a lookup based on an address or zip code? That's basically the same thing as a device location... The only difference is that the ownas is on the user to input a correct address. – Bryce Howitson Nov 22 at 20:48
  • I understand that the user can enter the zipcode or address. But what will the app display while it waits for that input from the user? Will it display an empty list or will it display all locations? – rbhat Nov 22 at 21:00
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    I'd go with all locations. You want to appear to have some data to filter down. – PhillipW Nov 22 at 23:27

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