GPS Tracking

Dedicated GPS vs Smartphone for Tracking Field Employees

Natasa Djalovic
Last update on:
April 18, 2024 1:53 AM
Published on:

Employee tracking is a game-changing tool that can help businesses streamline and optimize their operations, save costs, and improve customer service.

Using GPS technology, employers can monitor their field employees’ locations in real-time, track their time and attendance, and analyze their productivity and performance. As a matter of fact, 31% of businesses reported a positive increase in their ROI within six months of using GPS  technology. 

But, not all employee tracking solutions are created equal. There are two main ways to implement employee tracking: 

  1. GPS software
  2. Dedicated GPS devices.

GPS software is a cloud-based solution that uses smartphones or other devices to track employee locations, while GPS tracking devices are specialized hardware devices that do the same.

In this article, we will compare the use of dedicated GPS devices vs GPS software accessed through smartphones in detail and help you decide which suits your business and employee needs best.

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GPS Software for Employee Tracking

GPS software refers to cloud-based solutions that use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track employee locations and movements through smartphone apps or other connected devices. 

These solutions typically offer a range of features to help businesses manage and optimize their workforce, such as:

  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Real-time location monitoring
  • Performance analysis
  • Integrations
  • Other valuable features such as mileage and expense tracking, route optimization, scheduling, and facial recognition.

GPS Software sends an employee’s location information to a cloud-based platform, which processes and stores the data. Managers can then access this data through a web-based dashboard or phone app to track employees’ locations in real-time, assign tasks based on proximity, and analyze productivity and performance trends.

GPS Software: Features and Benefits for Employee Tracking

GPS software solutions have become increasingly popular for employee tracking due to their versatile features, ease of use, and compatibility with various devices. 

Here, we’ll explore the key features and benefits of using GPS-driven phone apps for employee tracking.

Real-time GPS location tracking

GPS tracking software allows employers to monitor field operations, respond quickly to emergencies, and ensure the safety of their workforce. In addition, this up-to-minute data can help businesses make informed resource allocation and project management decisions.

timeero who's working dashboard
With Timeero, you will always know where your employees are working. This gives you instant visibility and accountability of your workforce.

Time tracking

With smartphone GPS capabilities, tracking employee time and attendance becomes seamless. Employees can clock in and out using mobile time clocks, and the system automatically records their location data. This simplifies time tracking and timesheet creation, reduces time theft, and ensures accurate payroll.

timeero time card iphonne
Timeero makes clocking in and out easy and convenient.


The geofencing feature benefits businesses in numerous ways. Businesses are able to create virtual boundaries - geofences around specific geographical areas, such as job sites, client locations, or any area of interest to the company. 

The GPS software triggers a notification when an employee enters or exits a geofenced area with a smartphone. Businesses can also use this feature to monitor when employees arrive at or leave work locations, track time spent at specific sites, and ensure employees operate within designated areas.

timeero geofencing job location
With Timeero, setting geofences is easy. Geofences help you ensure that your employees are at the right place at the right time.

Productivity and performance analysis

GPS software provides valuable data feedback on employee work patterns, task time, and overall productivity. By analyzing this information, managers can identify areas for improvement, set performance benchmarks, and implement targeted training or coaching programs to boost employee performance.

timeero reporting
Use Timeero to generate your reports quickly.

Integration with other tools and platforms

Most GPS software solutions can easily integrate with other business tools and platforms like CRM, ERP, HR systems, bookkeeping, and payroll software. These integrations simplify data management and streamline various business processes, further enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of employee tracking.

timeero integrations
Get more done with Timeero integrations.

Other Useful Features

Mileage and expense tracking

GPS software can automatically track and calculate the mileage traveled by employees during their work hours. This feature makes it easy to reimburse employees for work-related travel expenses while also helping businesses monitor and control their costs.

timeero mileage mobile
Timeero tracks your employees’ routes and mileage seamlessly.

Route optimization and dispatching

GPS software can optimize and suggest the most efficient routes for field employees, reducing fuel consumption and travel time. This feature also makes dispatching more effective, as managers can quickly assign tasks to employees based on their current location, improving overall productivity and customer satisfaction.

timeero suggested route
Timeero lets you see the shortest route to your destination using apps like Apple or Google Maps.

Employee Scheduling

Scheduling is a common feature of GPS employee tracking software systems. This functionality enables managers to create schedules for individual employees or teams, taking into consideration their location, availability, and workload. By efficiently managing employee schedules, businesses can reduce overtime costs, prevent overstaffing or understaffing, and boost overall productivity.

timeero scheduling
With Timeero scheduling, you can let your employees accept or decline a shift. This helps you avoid scheduling conflicts and improve employee satisfaction.

Facial Recognition

As a common feature of employee GPS tracking software, facial recognition enables businesses to verify worker identities and prevent employee time theft, especially buddy punching.

timeero facial recognition
Prevent buddy punching with Timeero Facial Recognition.

GPS Tracking Software: Pros and Cons

To better understand the difference between GPS software vs. tracking devices, we’ve summarized the main pros and cons of GPS software in the table below.

Pros & Cons of GPS Tracking Software

Pros of GPS Tracking Software

  • Flexibility. GPS tracking software can work with different devices and platforms, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, or dedicated trackers. You can use the same software to track different assets with different devices.
  • Cost-effectiveness. GPS software solutions are usually cheaper than GPS tracking devices - you only need to pay for the subscription fee or the license fee of the software. You can also use your existing devices (smartphones or tablets) to track your assets without buying additional hardware.
  • Features. GPS tracking software may offer more features and functionalities than a GPS tracking device, such as geofencing, alerts, reports, analytics, history, etc. You can also customize the software according to your needs and preferences.
  • Updates. Employee monitoring software can be easily updated and improved with new versions and patches. You can also benefit from the feedback and reviews of other software users.‍

Cons of GPS Tracking Software

  • Reliability. GPS tracking software may depend on the internet connection and battery life of the devices. The software may not work properly or accurately on off-road trails where the internet connection is weak, or the battery is low. However, when using Timeero, your location is tracked offline, and device battery usage is optimized.
  • Privacy. GPS tracking software may raise privacy concerns among employees, especially if they use their personal devices for work purposes. Employees may feel uncomfortable or distrustful if their employers can access their location data anytime. However, some of the best GPS tracking apps, like Timeero, have safeguards in place to protect employee privacy - they only capture locations while employees are on the clock. 
  • Compatibility. GPS tracking software may not be compatible across all devices or platforms. Before choosing a software solution, you should check the system requirements and look for compatibility issues. Most employee  GPS trackers are compatible with Android and iOS devices. They can be accessed online on personal computers regardless of the system.
  • Security. GPS tracking software may be vulnerable to hacking or data breaches. You should ensure the software has adequate encryption and security measures to protect your data.

The best GPS tracking software, such as Timeero, keeps tracking location while offline and optimizes battery usage.

GPS Tracking Devices for Employee Tracking

GPS tracking devices are specialized hardware units primarily designed to collect and transmit location data using GPS systems. 

How Do GPS Tracking Devices Work for Employee Tracking?

Standalone GPS tracking devices are specialized hardware solutions for monitoring employee activity and locations. 

They rely on GPS satellites and cell towers to determine the user’s precise location. Dedicated GPS units then transmit this location data through cellular or satellite networks to a central server or platform where it is processed and stored.

Managers and employers can access this data through a web-based dashboard or mobile app to monitor employee locations, optimize routes and dispatch tasks, and analyze performance metrics.

When talking about standalone GPS vs smartphone GPS apps for employee monitoring, it’s important to clarify that neither of the two is used solely for navigation. 

It’s worth mentioning that dedicated GPS trackers aren’t the same as Bluetooth-enabled GPS navigation systems, whose main purpose is to provide live directions and routing assistance to drivers rather than track and report their specific movements to managers.

TomTom and Garmin, for example, are well-known for their GPS navigation systems, capable of providing traffic information rather than dedicated GPS tracking devices for employee monitoring. However, they do offer solutions that can be used in a business context for fleet management, tracking, and route optimization purposes. 

For accurate employee GPS tracking, you need more than a regular navigation device. 

GPS Tracking Devices: Features and Benefits for Employee Tracking

GPS tracking devices offer a dedicated solution for businesses looking to monitor employee movements and locations with a focus on accuracy, reliability, and ease of use. 

Let’s explore the key features and benefits of using GPS-tracking devices for employee tracking.

Accuracy and reliability

As specialized hardware designed specifically for tracking purposes, GPS tracking devices generally provide more accurate and reliable location data than smartphone-based GPS software. This enhanced accuracy is crucial for businesses that require precise location information for their operations, such as logistics or transportation companies.

Durability and battery life

GPS tracking devices are often built with durability in mind, ensuring they can withstand harsh conditions and usage.  These devices usually have extended battery life, which allows continuous tracking over longer periods without frequent recharging. This is a great benefit to businesses with field employees who work in remote areas or spend long hours on the road.

Security and privacy

Dedicated GPS tracking devices are typically more tamper-resistant than smartphones, which means your location data remains accurate and reliable. Additionally, these devices can offer enhanced security and privacy measures like data encryption and secure transmission protocols.

Compliance and regulation

GPS tracking devices can help businesses comply with regulations and industry standards by providing accurate location data, employee time and attendance records, and mileage logs. This information can be vital for demonstrating compliance during audits or inspections and can help businesses avoid potential fines and penalties.

Customization and scalability

Many GPS tracking devices can be customized to suit the specific needs of a business, with options to add or remove features as required.  These devices can be easily scaled to accommodate the growth of a company or the expansion of a vehicle fleet, ensuring that employee tracking remains efficient and effective as the business evolves.

GPS Tracking Devices: Pros and Cons

To better understand the difference between GPS software vs. tracking devices, we’ve also listed the pros and cons of GPS tracking devices.

Pros & Cons of GPS Tracking Devices

Pros of GPS Tracking Devices

  • Accuracy A GPS tracking device may provide more accurate and reliable location data than GPS tracking software, as it has a dedicated GPS receiver and transmitter that sends GPS data to a server or another device.
  • Durability GPS tracking devices may be more durable during harsh weather conditions and resistant to physical damage than GPS tracking software. Some devices may support a long battery life and have a backup battery option.
  • Privacy GPS tracking devices may cause fewer privacy issues than GPS tracking software, as it is usually designed for a specific purpose and may not access other data on the devices. Employees may also feel more comfortable using a separate device for work purposes.
  • Security A GPS tracking device may be more secure than GPS tracking software, as it may have less chance of being hacked or compromised by malicious spyware.

Cons of GPS Tracking Devices

  • Expensive A GPS tracking device may be more expensive than GPS tracking software, as you must buy the device and pay for the SIM card, data plan, or battery replacement.
  • Lack of Features GPS tracking devices may have limited features and functionalities depending on the model and manufacturer. As a result, you may be unable to customize or update the device according to your needs or preferences.
  • Limited Flexibility GPS tracking devices may not be flexible or versatile enough to track different assets with different devices. You may find that you need to buy different devices for different purposes or assets, such as GPS fleet tracking.
  • Compatibility Issues GPS tracking devices may not be compatible with other devices or platforms. It is recommended to check for compatibility issues before choosing a device solution.

GPS Software vs. Tracking Device: The Issue of Employee Privacy

When it comes to matters of privacy, both GPS tracking software and GPS tracking devices can raise privacy concerns among employees.

Establishing a GPS tracking policy and following employee monitoring best practices can help you protect your employees’ privacy, avoid employee pushback, and stay compliant with relevant GPS tracking legislation.

You can check out our article to learn more about implementing an employee GPS tracking policy or download a free template that you can customize according to your needs.

Dedicated GPS vs Smartphone Apps: Which One Is Better for Tracking Employees?

In ‍previous sections, we discussed the differences between cell phone GPS apps vs dedicated GPS devices.

Based on the detailed comparison, it’s safe to conclude that if you’re running a small business or a field service company and want a management system for your field workers without putting a hole in your budget, opting for an employee GPS tracking app could be your best option.

What Are the Differences Between Standalone GPS and Mobile GPS?

We’ve listed the crucial benefits of GPS software vs. tracking devices:

  • You can access the GPS tracking system from any device with an internet connection, such as an Android or an iPhone, tablet, or computer, and see your team members’ activity anytime and anywhere. GPS tracking devices usually require a dedicated receiver or display to view the location data.
  • Besides employee location tracking, there are other useful GPS tracking features such as geofencing, alerts, reports, analytics, integration with other systems to streamline your workflow, and various customization options.
  • GPS tracking software is more cost-effective and scalable than a GPS tracking device, as it does not require purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware devices. 
  • GPS tracking software can be more secure and reliable than a dedicated GPS tracker, as it can encrypt and back up the location data in the cloud. However, GPS tracking devices can be vulnerable to theft, damage, or interference.

To help you make a well-informed decision on monitoring and managing your mobile workforce, we’ve tested and compared the best employee GPS tracking tools on the market today, so check out our article.

How Can Timeero GPS Tracking App Help My Business?

Timeero’s advanced GPS tracking feature can help you revolutionize your business operations. You can track your employees’ time, locations, and routes in real-time or historically, improving their accountability and optimizing your resources.

timeero mobile app
Timeero lets you track time, location, mileage, and many more key business specifics.

Additionally, Timeero comes with a geofencing feature, allowing you to define virtual geographical boundaries so that your employees and managers can receive alerts and notifications when these boundaries are crossed. This feature can improve safety, enforce policy compliance, and validate employee work locations.

If your employees spend a lot of time driving from one location to another, Timeero’s mileage tracking feature can assist with your fleet management. You can track and reimburse employee mileage and gain more control over your expenses.

Besides tracking your employees’ time, locations, and mileage, Timeero can help you streamline scheduling and leave requests. Its anti-fraud measures, like facial recognition to prevent buddy punching and the ability to attach proof of work or expense receipts to timesheets, add another layer of security and transparency.

timeero proof of work
Add proof of work to employees' timecards.

Timeero generates time cards, timesheets, and mileage reports and can help you streamline your payroll and invoicing. As it integrates with some of the most popular accounting and payroll solutions, you can eliminate manual data entry, saving time and energy. 

Timeero integrates with:

  • QuickBooks Online
  • QuickBooks Desktop
  • ADP Workforce Now
  • RUN Powered by ADP
  • Gusto
  • Paylocity
  • Rippling
  • Viventium
  • Xero Australia
  • Paychex
  • Zapier

In case you have more specific integration needs, Timeero comes with a Public API.

Timeero cares about your employees’ privacy and business compliance, so it only tracks location and mileage while workers are on the clock. You can also customize the time tracker feature regarding breaks and overtime to comply with the relevant legislation in your region. To learn more about the software, read our detailed Timeero review.

G2: Timeero Customer Reviews

When it comes to comparing GPS apps vs. GPS tracking devices and weighing the pros and cons of both solutions, we have found that Timeero is the best GPS software app for businesses looking to improve their workday operations and increase profitability.

We suggest signing up for their free trial to see how Timeero will make all the difference you need in your business.

Don’t miss this chance to try Timeero - the best employee GPS software on the market!

Test it for free and see the difference for yourself. No strings attached.
Sign up for a free trial today.
Natasa Djalovic

Natasa is a writer specializing in the IT and software industry with 6+ years of experience in content writing and online marketing. During that period, she wrote more than 1,000 articles and several ebooks. She majored in English language and literature and loves cats, sneakers, and candy. When she's not working, she's probably binge-watching Netflix.

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