Google Launches New Android Feature 'Nearby'

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Google launched a cool... and I think very useful feature to Android today called Nearby. Nearby uses Bluetooth to seek out nearby beacons that are connected to Android apps on your phone. Developers of ecommerce or in-store related apps are going to be staying up late working to incorporate Nearby because of its potential to bring in more sales.

Nearby was announced back in May:

Nearby can be used for any app that communicates provides the mobile phone user with real-time data. For instance:

  • New information and multi-media can open in a museums app as a person passes each exhibit. such as when a person at a museum getting further information and media related to the exhibit they are standing in front of.
  • As you walk down the aisle at Kroger's a Kroger app can offer you app-only deals as you pass by items on the shelf.
  • As you stand in line at the DMV in California it could ask you to feel out certain forms in the app and then direct you to a line number that handles your type of need such as renewing your cars registration.
  • At the car dealership, an app from the dealer could offer you a deal that isn't on the sticker, possibly timed by how long you stood close to a particular car.

The Google Android Blog offered some additional examples:

  • Print photos directly from your phone at CVS Pharmacy.
  • Explore historical landmarks at the University of Notre Dame.
  • Download the audio tour when you're at The Broad in LA.
  • Skip the customs line at select airports with Mobile Passport.
  • Download the United Airlines app for free in-flight entertainment while you wait at the gate, before you board your flight.

Google says that to use Nearby, just turn on Bluetooth and Location, and they'll show you a notification if a nearby app or website is available. According to Google Nearby has started rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services release and will work on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and above.

The Google Developers Blog also provided information for developers to incorporated Nearby within Android apps:

Getting started is simple. First, get some Eddystone Beacons- you can order these from any one of our Eddystone-certified manufacturers. Android devices and and other BLE-equipped smart devices can also be configured to broadcast in the Eddystone Format.

Second, configure your beacon to point to your desired experience. This can be a mobile web page using the Physical Web, or you can link directly to an experience in your app. For users who don’t have your app, you can either provide a mobile web fallback or request a direct app install.

Nearby has started rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services release and will work on Android devices running 4.4 (KitKat) and above. Check out our developer documentation to get started. To learn more about Nearby Notifications in Android, also check out our I/O 2016 session, starting at 17:10.

For all the information that developers will need go to the Google Nearby Developer site.

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