Last updated
February 21, 2024

Best Geofencing APIs for App Developers

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shipton

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Geofencing is an incredibly useful and powerful tool for tailoring what your users see and access online. Useful for both brick-and-mortar establishments, mobile apps, and fully online businesses, geofencing allows you to do location-based marketing, direct users to specific sales, deliver location-based content, block content based on location, and improve the overall user experience.

In this article we’ll discuss geofencing: what it is, how it can be used, and some of the top APIs for implementing geofencing in your apps.

Key Takeaways

  • Geofencing is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area, enabling location-based user interaction.
  • Geofencing APIs allow apps to deliver content and services based on the user's location, enhancing personalization and user experience.
  • Best practices for geofencing include obtaining user permission for location data and turning off location services when not needed.
  • Geofencing has diverse applications, from marketing and customer engagement to employee tracking and asset management.
  • Top geofencing API providers include Google Maps, MapBox, Radar, AbstractAPI, and Bluedot, each offering unique features for different needs.
  • Choosing the right geofencing API involves considering the target area, integration ease, and customer support availability.

What is Geofencing?

A geofence is a virtual perimeter around a real-world geographic area. It allows a location-aware device to detect when a user is within proximity of a specific point or real-world geographical location. These virtual boundaries can be as large as a continent, or as small as around a single store.

An app or other software programming uses a combination of GPS data, cell signal, WiFi, Bluetooth, IP geolocation, and geocoding to determine where a user’s device is in the world. Once that location has been determined, if the user is inside the geofence, targeted content can be served.

Related: How to explore IP Geolocation on a map

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How Geofencing APIs Enhance App Functionality

Geofencing APIs allow apps to serve tailored content based on a user’s location. A geofence might allow a business to send targeted ads to users in specific zip codes (for example, where sales are currently happening in brick-and-mortar stores.)

Location data is also useful for analyzing user behavior and other important customer metrics.

A geofenced area could also be used to direct users to useful websites in real-time - for example, when a user enters a store and receives a notification containing a link to a map of that store.

Location Services Best Practices

To ensure the best experience for your users, it’s important to adhere to some best practices. Always get permission from the user before accessing location data or turning on location tracking.

Turn off location services when the user leaves the geofenced area to help conserve device battery life.

Use Cases for Geofencing APIs

The use cases for geofencing APIs apply to both the physical world and the digital world. Geofencing is not just useful for marketing: it can also be used for employee tracking, asset management, hiring, customer support, and data collection.

Let’s take a look at a couple of real-world examples.


Starbucks uses geofencing and beacons to send push notifications to drive foot traffic to their locations. For example, someone passing a Starbucks might receive a push notification with a special offer on iced lattes. The user would take their phone into the store, open the app, and show the push notification to the barista to receive the special pricing.

To receive the notifications, users must have the app installed on their mobile device, and allow the app to access their location and send push notifications.


Uber establishes geofences around high-traffic areas like airports, hotels, bars, etc. and uses a mobile device’s real-time location to quickly connect users with drivers. For example, when the user gets off their plane, Uber sends them a push notification letting them know that rides are available at the airport, and where to go to find them. When they check in to a hotel, they receive a notification about available deals in the city.

Google Maps

Google maps is perhaps the best-known example of geofencing. The app uses location data to display accurate, up-to-date maps that include traffic, points of interest, gas stations, bus schedules, trains, and more.

Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins used geofencing when they needed to hire new people. They used location data to create and serve targeted social media ads to qualified candidates in their area. These ads appeared on Facebook feeds and LinkedIn, and allowed the company to quickly weed out the best and most qualified local candidates.

Choosing the Right Geofencing API

If you’ve decided to incorporate geofencing into your app or website, it’s important to choose the right API for the job. Different geofencing solutions provide slight geofencing features. Do you need to target a wide area, such as a country, or a small area like a brick-and-mortar store?

You should also consider the ease of integration of the service with your current software platform and the availability of customer support.

Top Geofencing API Providers

Let’s take a look at some of the best geofencing software providers on the market today.

1. Google Maps Geofencing API

Google makes some of the best and most accessible APIs for developers. Their geofencing API has unparalleled location data and intelligently uses device sensors to apply geofencing in a battery-efficient way.

Related: Determining Geolocation in Google Maps

Getting started with the API is easy and free. Just sign up for a Google Developers account and acquire an API key. Google provides several SDKs for integrating easily with several languages, including JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and Go.

2. MapBox Geofencing API

The MapBox geocoding API runs forward and reverse geocoding queries. That means you can either provide a set of geographic coordinates and receive a human-readable text address for that location, or you can provide a human-readable address and receive latitude and longitude coordinates.

Their Maps and Navigation services include several APIs for requesting map objects and for getting step-by-step directions. You can either interface with the API directly via network request or utilize one of many SDKs.

3. Radar Geofencing API

Radar provides geofencing, geocoding, and geolocation APIs to deliver a complete set of location-based features for enterprise-level apps. Companies like Panera, Zillow, and LG use them to handle location-based experiences.

Radar delivers geolocation solutions for payment, travel, gaming, C-Store, and retail. Their geolocation data are used to prevent fraud during e-commerce transactions and establish polygonal geofences with an accuracy down to 5 meters or less

4. AbstractAPI Geolocation API

Abstract's Free Geolocation API allows you to look up a user’s location based on their IP address. Using an API key, your app or website sends a secure request to the API, which determines the IP address from where the request was sent, and then looks up the location of that IP address in a geolocation database.

Geolocation can improve the user experience for your signup pages by allowing the browser to autocomplete certain fields. It also allows you to serve targeted content to users from different countries, including currency conversions, language translations, and culturally specific and aware imagery.

5. Bluedot

Bluedot provides geofencing SDKs and APIs to streamline things like drive-thru traffic and curbside pickup, and to improve the automation of adding customers to loyalty programs. They serve primarily the auto, grocery, retail, QSR and gas and convenience industries.

Bluedot’s services are uniquely tailored, and may not be the best option for a small business that does not operate within one of these industries.


Geofencing technology allows an app to establish virtual boundaries around real-world geographical locations. When mobile devices enter these virtual boundaries, apps can receive push notifications with useful information, promotional content, or

Geofencing capabilities can also be used on a larger scale to improve ROI on marketing campaigns by delivering targeted ads, serving localized content, auto-filling sign-up forms, and providing tailored customer support.

If you’re interested in integrating geolocation services into your app or website, check out the AbstractAPI Free Geolocation API for a quick and easy way to get started with geolocation data.


What is the difference between a geofencing API and SDK?

SDK stands for Software Development Kit. It is a module or library containing code that runs directly inside your app to help you integrate a specific service or solution into your application. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a set of rules governing how two separate software entities should communicate.

These days, an “API” is typically a web-based solution to a specific issue that can be accessed via a network request. An API is language-agnostic but may provide language-specific SDKs to make the process of integrating the solution easier.

How do I get started with integrating a geofencing API?

The easiest way to get started integrating any API is to read the API documentation. Most APIs provide a quick start guide to help you get your API key and make your first text request within just a few minutes.

Once you’ve gone through the quick start guide, search the documentation online for answers to your specific questions. A good API will have clear, concise documentation that answers all your questions. If it doesn’t, it may be time to consider a different API.

What are the costs associated with geofencing APIs?

Most geofencing APIs provide a free-for-life tier that allows you to make a limited number of requests to the API per month. How many requests will depend on the particular API, but most cut you off at about 1000 per month.

From there, pricing solutions vary depending on the type of data you request from the API, and the frequency with which you request it. Most APIs are either priced per request or through a monthly subscription.

As an example: the AbstractAPI Geolocation API provides a free tier that tops out at 1000 requests per month at 1 request per second. The next tier up is $8/month for 2.5 million requests per year at 5 requests per second.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shipton
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