Indoor Navigation with Android and iOS Devices – What Are the Differences and Fields of Application?

Indoor navigation with Android and iOS devices – what are the differences and fields of application?

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Finding the most suitable positioning technology is the critical success factor for indoor navigation projects. The most common ones are Bluetooth-Low-Energy (BLE) beacons and WiFi. But which technology is the best for each mobile OS?

In December 2015 iOS and Android had the following market shares in Germany: Android 72,6%, iOS 20,2%. In Japan however, Android makes up only 44,4% and iOS equals 54,1%. When you decide for a positioning technology, you should consider the number of users which it potentially excludes. Have a look at the statistics.


Client based indoor positioning on Android devices is fuss-free. The operating system supports all common methods, for example beacons, WiFi and Visible Light Communication. Server based positioning, for example used for tracking people and objects, is also possible. Indoor positioning with WiFi has one big advantage: In most cases existing infrastructure, for example WiFi access points, hotspots or even cashier systems with internet access can be used. The device doesn’t have to be connected to the WiFi network, it is sufficient when WiFi is active. 

Summarizing the above, it can be said that WiFi is an affordable indoor positioning technology in most cases. But unfortunately, it is not very accurate: it can reach 5 – 15 meters. But the bigger problem is that client based indoor positioning with WiFi excludes all iOS devices. Thus, this solution is only worth considering when Android devices make out a very high percentage – for example at museums which provide their visitors with their own devices or in countries such as Brazil, where the market share of Android is over 90 percent.


Devices with iOS 4.3 and higher do no longer support client based positioning via WiFi. Server based tracking however is possible. Apple exclusively supports client based indoor positioning via beacons. iBeacons and Eddystone have an accuracy of 1 – 3 meters and are very flexible. Apple has for some time been working on its own indoor mapping tools which will certainly provide new impulses to the topic.

If you have questions concerning indoor tracking, please contact us.

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