Geolocation API services can enable mission-critical capabilities, especially for online stores and banking services. They’re used to detect a user’s location by using IP lookup. This can help prevent fraud. However, IP addresses can be faked or obscured by VPNs, proxies, and TOR (anonymizer).
Detecting such attempts to spoof geographical location is critical for many businesses. However, even if an API can do it, the functionality can still be hidden behind higher price tiers. It’s important to remember that not all geolocation APIs are the same, though.
In this blog post, we will establish whats an IP Geolocation API is, how it works, and why you might want to add it to your existing app or service. We will also discuss the best geolocation APIs available to get started with.
Best Geolocation APIs in 2021
After reviewing the top 35 Geolocation APIs available in the market, here are our top 10 picks of the best geolocation APIs. We pick these based on the simplicity, accuracy, pricing, and data that we can get with the APIs. Also, we make sure that all the geolocation services mentioned below also have well-written documentation for helping the developers.
So let’s proceed with our picks.
Current IP data is critical for geolocation services. Abstract’s long-standing relationships with internet service providers across the globe mean that they can geolocate IP addresses with high accuracy. Furthermore, Abstract developed its REST API to be capable of scaling to enterprise use cases while maintaining low latency.
All of its capabilities, including fraud detection, are available at all pricing levels. So if your use case is non-commercial, you don’t lose out. You still get access to country code, city, postal code, latitude/longitude, and 256 bit SSL encryption.
The commercial version also makes some richer data available. Abstract IP geolocation API also scales up to 500 API requests per second and provides additional levels of support. Both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are covered and you can do bulk queries by uploading CSV files.
The DB-IP can offer a lot of detail such as local currency and ISP along with crawler detection. All product tiers support more than 50 languages.
DB-IP comes in three tiers. The ‘Basic’ tier includes location data such as GPS coordinates, district, zip code, and time zone. However, threat data is only available in the highest tier. Each tier’s also segmented by the number of API calls. So this could serve simple functionality but high traffic use cases.
The IP2Location IP geolocation web service can offer detail on a visitor’s location as granular as latitude/longitude and local weather station.
However, pricing is based on a credit system that’s very complex with a long list of options. Unfortunately, proxy detection is a separate product and multi-lingual support is a paid add-on for this API. There is a free option, but it’s only intended for demo purposes and is limited to 20 API returns per day.
Helpfully, ipapi illustrates the capability of their geolocation API on their website. It’s based on a REST API with location information including latitude/longitude, postal code, and calling code.
Most location data is available at the free tier that offers 1,000 lookups per month. Commercial tiers add time zones and an increasing number of lookups, up to over two million for the enterprise option. However, threat detection is only available at the highest tiers.
If you are working on a low-traffic website which only needs 1000 lookups a month then you can try ipapi for free and test its services. After that, you need to pay a fee for their services. Other than that, the API documentation is easy with a bunch of code examples to ease your development process.
MaxMind takes the atypical step of pairing its geolocation data such as country and postal code with confidence scores and demographic data such as income in USD (US dollar) for US IP addresses.
However, MaxMind’s options are heavily segmented. Yes, there is a free option, but geolocation information more accurate than the country name is only available in the second commercial tier. However, TOR/VPN detection and all of the richer data mentioned above only becomes available in the highest tier.
Other than that the development process is quite typical so if you are new to development then you need to spend a lot of time in the setup of MaxMind API. It doesn’t have a simple API system that you can copy to start using.
The ipstack geolocation API offers location data in all tiers of its product including the free API tier which is limited to 5,000 API calls. Higher tiers offer country flags and time zone detection. This data can be exported in JSON or XML format.
However, the security module for detecting attempts to circumvent or obfuscate IP lookup is only available in the top two tiers. These tiers also offer upwards of two million requests per month and dedicated support.
With compared to many other geolocation API services the ipstack pricing is quite reasonable and the API is also easy to use, so if you are a developer then you can give it a try using its free plan.
The positionstack geolocation API doesn’t just provide real-time geocoding to offer country code, postal code and latitude/longitude. It also offers an embeddable map option to offer visual representations of IP lookup data.
This map becomes available at the first commercial tier. However, all geolocation information is available at the free tier which permits 25,000 requests per month. Higher tiers offer increased API requests and additional support. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of VPN/TOR detection capabilities in the documentation.
The ipdata geolocation API can provide postal codes, latitude/longitude, ASN data, and various other data just like any other geolocation service.
All geolocation data is available in all paid product tiers. The free plan offering 1,500 requests per day is missing from their comparison on the website but appears to offer latitude/longitude data. All tiers offer threat intelligence such as TOR and proxy detection.
IPinfo geolocation data includes postal code, latitude/longitude, and ASN data such as ISP phone number and abuse email address.
Unfortunately, VPN/proxy/TOR detection appears to now be in a separate product. They have a free plan along with four paid tiers for commercial use which scales the number of API calls. The top two tiers add support SLA agreements, implementation support, and an account (customer success) manager.
IPify is quite an easy geolocation API platform for developers, you will get all the details about the API on their homepage. They also have documentation for their API which explains all about their API.
They have a free plan which provides 1,000 requests to use and test their API. However, the pricing is quite higher as compared to the various other geolocation API services.
What is IP Geolocation API?
The IP Geolocation API is a set of tools and services to help developers create applications that use the internet’s geographic location in order to perform various tasks. These tools make it possible for a developer to track a user’s physical or digital movement, find nearby places based on input from the user, and send notifications when the user enters these locations.
Geolocation API Use Cases: Why do you Want to Use It?
IP Geolocation API has many uses, though most often they revolve around mobile apps or web applications that would like to dynamically track your location or post updates to your social media accounts.
1. Mobile Apps
Location tracking is a fairly common feature in modern mobile apps. The only thing standing in the way of true location tracking is the user’s internet connection. If apps are forced to check the user’s location every time the app launches, it can be very frustrating to have to keep giving permission every time you open up an app. Instead, some apps use IP Geolocation API to track a user’s location without forcing him or her to continually give permission for the app to access his or her location.
2. Web Applications
Some applications that run on a web browser can use IP Geolocation API as a basis for their services. One example is that of a weather application, which can use IP Geolocation API to tell you what the weather is like wherever you may be.
3. Social Media
One of the more common uses of IP Geolocation API is to update a user’s social media accounts whenever they enter a specific geographic location. Some examples of this include telling someone that you have arrived at a concert venue or posting updates about your progress on a run.
4. Other Uses
There are other uses for IP Geolocation API, though they are less common and may be too difficult to be worth the time investment for some developers. These include:
- Advertisements: Tracking a user’s location and serving advertisements based on the results.
- Business locations: Finding what businesses are in a given area, such as which restaurants or shops are near you.
- Get Geolocation information from the local computer.
- Detect nearby devices and services.
- Use GPS to determine the location within a known area.
- Use WiFi and mobile network signals to determine the location within a known area.
- Find nearby devices that are nearby using WiGig or Bluetooth LE technology.
How does Geolocation API Works?
IP location detection is a computer science discipline that combines the disciplines of geolocation and network information systems. IP Geolocation IP is the process of determining the physical location of an internet user by their IP address, usually without explicit permission.
The IP address is visible to any web server where a user made its requests. That IP address is grabbed and used with the various geolocation API available to find all the details about the user such as location, city, service provider, etc which is used to help user to provide the best experience on the website and also to keep away the harmful bots and threats away.
The Geolocation API services have all the data of all the IPs available on the internet. All the data is stored in a large chunk of storage and it is used to find out the detail of users’ location. All the data is refreshed on daily basis to keep the exact track of the user. This is achieved with various information of service providers, ISP providers, and also with the help of live locations.
Frequently Asked Questions
How accurate is IP geolocation?
IP-based geolocation services are 55% to 80% accurate in locating the user region or station and 50-70% accurate in providing the user city location. This data also vary according to the provider and device location.
Can IP address reveal identity?
No, not entirely. However, it helps to know the approximate location and area of the user along with its carrier details and various such detail, which are further used along with various other details such as online activity, device, etc to reveal the identity.
You must analyze your business first and understand what needs to be achieved. You should identify what functionality is critical, what’s nice to have, and what you don’t need. You also need to measure the number of API calls you’re making now and factor in your projected growth.
You can develop this knowledge by focusing on your use cases. Then get involved in the product selection process. The days of being able to drop products on the business without consultation are over. Unhappy users will find ways around the product if you do.
Above all, if you’re dependent on threat detection, this list has shown that you can’t use just any geolocation API. So work through a rigorous business assessment and product selection process or you could risk something that will leave your customers open to fraud.