The blue dot pattern allows mobile users to see their current location in a map to understand their surroundings. Blue dot is specific to mobile apps where movement and change in position of the user’s device is expected. Tracking this movement means that the user can focus on their task without expending energy to constantly pan and zoom the map to their current location.
People who navigate indoor and outdoor spaces rely on their location to make decisions on features around them. From their point of view, the world gravitates around them — they are the center of the scene with important objects surrounding them. Because mobile users are constantly moving, their expectation is that the map “follows” them. This experience differs from the usual map navigation behavior that requires the user to provide explicit pan or zoom instructions to change the extent.
Blue dot is extremely powerful for navigating along a route so that, for instance, a driver can focus on the street while the app follows the car to show relevant surrounding features such as traffic hazards, gas stations, or upcoming turns. Other common use cases include locator apps such as store locators and apps that support people on the scene such as hiking apps and field data collection apps.
Blue dot is an app mode that needs to be triggered by the user, usually by pressing the locate me button or a button to start navigation. The map zooms and centers on the user’s current location and places a blue dot at the center of the map. This indicates the location identified through GPS, IPS, mobile phone mast triangulation, internet protocol (IP) location, built-in phone sensors, or a combination of these.
As the user moves the mobile device, the map moves accordingly while keeping the blue dot centered at the preconfigured scale. Under certain conditions — for instance, approaching an important intersection where the user needs to see the full scene — the scale may temporarily change. Once this condition has passed, the app should zoom back to the default scale.
If users interpose themselves in the navigation experience by zooming or panning the map, the map should stop following the users’ movement. The app will instead show a button labeled Re-center, usually placed in the bottom-left corner, which allows users to return to the tracking mode.
Two methods to finish the navigation experience should be provided: cancel and done. A user should be able to cancel and back out of navigation by clicking a return button, usually indicated by a left-pointing arrow in Western languages. The second method is a notification trigger once the destination has been reached. This notification may be a modal overlay informing the user of the fact that they have arrived, often paired with additional information about the location and further actions that can be taken.
Last, any positioning is only as accurate as the mechanism available and used to locate the device. Indicating this accuracy is a useful feedback mechanism so that users can make decisions accordingly. A nice way of presenting this feedback is through the size of the circle. Often a larger blue shade around the dot means a higher margin of positional error. Some apps display an indicator cone to show the direction a user is facing. The narrowness of the cone correlates with how well the device is calibrated for direction.
The ArcGIS Indoors mobile app uses floor-aware indoor maps to help executives, supervisors, mobile staff, and employees better understand, maintain, and operate workplace environments. A user’s location is the key to finding rooms, tracking assets, and routing to facilities. The app uses search, locate me, info pop-up, and floor selector to explore the 3D indoor space. The blue dot is an important pattern to indicate the user’s current location. It is always active but can be outside the visible map extent, in which case the user can tap the Locate Me button to re-center the map on the blue dot. Indoors allows employees without a permanent office location to book a room before they visit. When they arrive at the workplace, the app routes them to the booked room so they can check in and use it.