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I'm building a location based mobile app and I want users to share their location with me. However, I'm a bit torn on how to proceed when the user declines to share their location.

Similar to Tinder or other apps, I want them to share their location in order to use the app. For safety reasons, I would prefer to have this step required. At the same time I don't wish for people to stop using the app because I have a hard requirement of sharing location.

  1. Am I being too cautious? I'm an engineer, my laptop is basically locked down as best as possible to prevent remote access. I use a VPN, encrypt my storage, etc. However, I do share my location with apps where it makes sense to do so (but only on my burner mobile device using a anonymized email account). How do regular users react when they see an app requires their location?

  2. Although I want this to be a hard requirement, I'm willing to explore alternatives. If the user rejects allowing me to use their location, I can show them a text input where they can enter their city. However, I feel that relaxing on this requirement is kind of defeating the point of encouraging safety and responsibility on the part of the user. I want this app to encourage a safe space for my users, and if other people share their locations then it shows that they're not bots or worse creeps/phishers/etc. How can I explain the reasoning for this hard requirement in a simple and clear way to my users?

Update: I thought about it some more, and I decided that I will allow the user to manually search and add their city/town. However, to actually use some of the core features of the app, they will need to enable location services. They can still get an idea of how the app works, what features it has, etc. but to engage with other users they will have to enable their location. Thoughts?

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If the user refuses to provide their location, you must explain why this is necessary. If you make it clear that the service cannot be provided without allowing location, there's a good chance that the user will agree.

Even if the user refuses automatic detection, you can offer some options that are common in many apps:

  • Allow location for this session only
  • Allow location detection for (X) number of days
  • Only when using this app
  • Allow my location to be entered manually

Below you can see an example:

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Bottom line: make it clear that the service needs to locate the user somehow. Unless it's a crazy requirement (which doesn't seem to be the case from your description), most users will understand.

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  • Thanks Devin. I updated my onboarding flow so that if the user rejects giving me their location, I ask them to input a manual location to proceed. With this, they get to experience a limited feature set with a messaging explaining why location services are required to access to the full set of features. Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 20:06
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What Devin has stated is the industry best practice and I would suggest the same . However I have one major question:

Can the user use some features without sharing the location?

If yes, then in that case I would delight the user so that I can retain them by saying say"we appreciate your privacy concerns and to best suit your needs we are moving you to our light version where you can still use some of our great features from the app, and then you can evem show the features available for them by enabling/disabling some buttons or use a tutorial etc and can add switch to the best experience Click to share location"

It would be wise to display what data is collected if at all, and if shared with others, not as legal docs but in a good readable design so that user know what they are sharing.

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  • Thanks, I added a small note that explains why this is required. Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 4:34

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