We got Google Maps and other hundreds of navigation apps to navigate a completely unfamiliar location. These apps have undoubtedly addressed a significant need and helped mankind explore new things without third-person support. But, these apps might not be effective when you need the accuracy of each meter. You might have experienced the same while traveling. If guests visit you, one from home needs to pick them up from the nearby landmark. 

That’s the challenge being addressed by What3words.  

What Is the What3Words App?

what3words app

To make sure you reach the doorstep of your destination and don’t have to wander despite having a smartphone in your hand, What3words has sliced the whole Earth into 57 trillion blocks of 3 meters by 3 meters. Next time you use this app to reach your friends, you will be no farther than 3 meters from your friends. To share or receive the location, all you need to do is share 3 random words dedicated to the particular square you want to reach, and boom, the app will take you to the exact spot. 

How What3Words App Came Into Existence? 

Chris Sheldrick CoFounder CEO at whatthreewords
Chris Sheldrick

The idea of the app was conceived by Chris Sheldrick, founder of the app when he used to work as an event organizer and struggled to reach the right place. Often, they had to suffer from the location problem, which led them to use the coordinates. However, not everyone was familiar with the concept of coordinates. Even if some were, it was very frustrating to type a 16-digit number every time they wanted to share the location. 

It made Sheldrick think of a convenient way to share the coordinates in words rather than numbers. He connected with one of his close friends, who was also a math wiz in order to come up with a different and accurate location system.

Together they identified 40,000 different words, combinations of which could name every 3 meters by 3-meter block on the Earth. These 40,000  words produced more than 64 trillion different combinations, while Earth has room for only 57 trillion squares. 

The company was incorporated in March 2013, the app was developed in July 2013, and the first seed funding of $500,000 was raised in November 2013.  

About what3words

Exclusiveness of What3Words a Geo Location Map App 

There are more than 33,000 navigation apps on the Google Play store, but What3words has its own place. The reason is its exclusiveness. Some of the features and support that What3words offers to its users can not be availed in any other app. 

Following are some of the insights into exclusiveness of this app:  

Accuracy of Every Meter 

Having named 57 trillion different squares on Earth, the app now is able to provide you with the accuracy of every meter. You are not going to be near a friend’s house, but you are going to be at the doorstep of their house. 

Partnership with Mercedes 

Another exclusiveness of What3words is their partnership with one of the exclusive car manufacturers, Mercedes. The latter bought a 10% stake in the company in January 2018. The A-Class, launched by Mercedes-Benz in May 2018, became the first vehicle around the globe with What3words navigation system installed in the system.  

Mercedes-Benz & what3words for voice navigation

Thoughtfully Designed Word Compilation

Not numbers, but words can be offensive. The firm had to use 57 trillion different word combinations without using a single word that might be offensive, abusive, or misleading. The app has managed to do the same, and today, you will not find any trillions of those blocks carrying an odd-to-pronounce combination. 

Former Business Model 

The former business model of What3words is also one of the exclusive factors of the app. Once, the app started selling a one-word address to the people against annual charges. So, you can just send one word to anyone and receive the next message only when they are standing at your doorsteps. However, the firm has discontinued this service.  

What Design Principle Is Used by What3Words?

A precise, three-word address for every place on earth

To maintain accuracy, the app has divided the world into little blocks having each side 3 meters. It took 57 trillion blocks for the app to cover the whole Earth (Land+Water). The app is basically a proprietary geocode system designed to identify any location with resolution of 3 meters. The system efficiently encodes the geographic coordinates in three permanent fixed dictionary words. So, there are chances that your bed has a different address while the sofa beside it has a different one. 

The app has been designed for both iOS and Android. It works with an API for bidirectional conversion between latitude/longitude coordinates and What3words. 

What Market Stats Say About What3Words?

The relevant stats of an app, firm or any entity are one of the best methods to analyze its performance in the market. However, in this one, it might not be that effective. The reason for this particular statement is that the platform is still receiving the funding, generating the revenue, and at the same time, also experiencing a lot of losses. 

The app has more than 10 million downloads from Google Play Store alone. Moreover, the firm secured revenue of £274,000 in 2018. But, the firm also experienced a loss of £11 million in the same year.

Similarly, in 2019, the firm experienced a loss of £14.5 million while withstanding reported assets of £24.7 million. In 2020, the firm employed around 100 people and had also generated over £50 million from its investors. In the year 2021 as well, ITV plc bought a £2.7 million stake in the firm to get access to advertising space. 

Key Features of What3Words Mobile App

Precise Locations 

Precise Locations with just 3 words

Accuracy is the core feature of the app. With squares of 3 meters by 3 meters, the app has managed to enhance its accuracy to the next level. The app is so accurate that you can share your location sitting in your first bedroom with your sibling sitting in the next room. 

Multiple Languages 

50 Multiple Languages what3words

The app provides supports 50 languages. So, the three words are translated into several languages. However, the three words in the different languages have been dedicated manually rather than just translating English into other languages. 

Save the Locations 

The app allows you to save the locations that you visit frequently. It will save your time when you wish to visit the same place some other day. The feature can also be used to find your car at the exact location in a big parking lot. 

Compatible with Other Apps

The app is compatible with other apps as well. So, you can locate the address in What3words and open the navigation in Google maps or Apple maps. 

Navigate Offline with Compass Mode 

The app doesn’t let you stop even when you don’t have an internet connection on your phone. You can navigate to your location or address offline with the help of the compass feature in the app. 

Add the Photo to Any Address 

To make it even easier to find your favorite locations, the app allows you to add the photos to particular squares. So next time, you don’t need to search for the same square anymore as it is already highlighted with a picture. 

What3Words App as A Life Savior 

App has even worked as a savior in different situations. During a pandemic or disaster, the evacuation process becomes much easier with a feature like this. 

In 2017, when there was an earthquake in Mexico City, the government used the What3word system to translate the GPS coordinates into three-word locations. It helped the responder enormously to evacuate the people ASAP. 
Similarly in Durban, South Africa, one of the local health care providers installed around 11,000 signs with three-word locations printed on them to help the pregnant women in the area to communicate with emergency services at the time of delivery or other critical moments. 
what3words is helping Gateway Health provide medical support to townships
The app even saved Jess Tinsley and her friends when they got lost in the woods on a dark and rainy night. The plan of circular strolling of five miles through 4,900 hectares of woodland in Hamsterley Forest failed, and the group of friends was lost on Sunday evening. 

When they somehow found a phone signal, they dialed 999, where Ms. Tinsley received the phone. They were told to install What3words, and within minutes of download, their locations were traced and evacuated. 

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Points of Criticism About What3Words App

Criticism is the byproduct of popularity. No matter how good the platform, application, or subject is, there is always something to criticize to help find room for improvement. So, What3words also carries several criticisms from many people, some of which can be considered genuine while others are not that big a problem to criticize such a helpful app. 

What’s wrong with what3words?

1. Not an Open Standard 

The firm is often criticized for not being an open standard and controlled by a private business. The firm has a patent over the software, which is not available to use freely. The firm has taken numerous legal actions against the different entities which seemed to be copying the software idea or functionality. 

2. Criticism Over the Word Choice 

A lot of criticism of the app has also been observed due to the word choice. No doubt, the app developers have ensured not to use any offensive, vulgar, or inappropriate words; however, people are blaming the app for using some of the words that might not fit a place. For example, the address “mile.crazy.shade” is not a respectful name for a war memorial. 

3. Chances of Mistake 

Another point of dissatisfaction is regarding the possibilities of mistakes. The criticism is that a mistake of one letter in 3 words can be obvious. But, this app will take you entirely elsewhere due to that mistake. So, it might not be that reliable. 

How Can You Build an App Like What3Words?

Maps and Navigation have always been one of the most significant app categories on Google Play Store as well as Apple App Store. So, the domain has got enough space for you to enter and attract the audience. However, as we said, it is a vast app category that already carries tens of thousands of apps; you will have to provide something different. 

What3Words has its own way of identifying and sharing the address. This point of differentiation helps the app to secure and maintain their own user base. Similarly, by developing a different and innovative idea, you can reserve a position for yourself in the app market. 

However, developing an app is very different from developing an idea. You need to be a full-stack developer with in-depth knowledge and experience for all stages of app development.

But, if it is not so, hiring a team is the best substitution. You can simply hire the team, share your innovative idea, and get the app developed. Just make sure that the team you are hiring is as visionary as you to develop the app.

Check the prototype of the app efficiently as the final outlook of your app is going to depend on the same. Ensure to perform the testing phase multiple times to remove all the bugs.  

Team You Need to Develop An App Like What3Words

You should remember, the success and efficiency of your app depends on your team. A well-selected team will help you transfigure your idea into reality, while a randomly selected team will help you add just an app to the massive ocean of app markets. One of the best and most fundamental concepts that can be used to analyze the efficiency of a team is identifying the members of the team. A good app development team will consist of the following members giving their contribution at the different stages of app development:

Estimate Cost to Build an App Like What3Words

You can develop the app at as low as $10,000 and as high as $50,000, it’s all about your choice. The app development cost is not constant and varies with different factors. 

First of all, it depends on the team you hire to develop the app. A good team will cost you higher than that of a team composed of inexperienced developers. 

Secondly, the number of and type of features that you wish to provide in your app are also big contributing factors to the cost of app development. More are the features, the higher the cost will be. 

The cost of app development depends on the time taken by developers to develop the app. So, the time is also directly proportional to the cost of the app.  

How Can EmizenTech Help You? 

As we interpreted earlier, the team you hire for app development is going to play a significant role in the performance and efficiency of your app. We at Emizentech offer you the best, most experienced, visionary app development team. 

With an experience of around a decade, we have learned not only to provide the best services but also to understand the client’s idea and turn it into a reality with an app. With a constant and quality service, we have enrolled a number of Forbes 500 listed companies in our client base. 

We understand that a price quotation is not sufficient communication with a client, and there is a need for guidance and suggestions. If you have anything to discuss to make the decision, we also provide free counseling.

Wrapping Up

App development is the trending way to commercialize new and innovative ideas. What3Words is one of the best examples for the same. In a massive ocean of navigation apps, What3Words has proved to be a giant octopus with its long arms attracting users. By slicing the Earth in 57 trillion blocks, the app has managed to provide the accuracy of every meter. Dedicating a three-word term, the app has made it enormously easy for people to share their addresses.  

The takeaway is that if you also have such innovative and useful ideas, don’t let them just grow in your mind but give a physical identity to them. In the end, it’s only about the first step.

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CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.