One of Google’s approaches to the Internet of Things involves placing low-energy Bluetooth beacons that can communicate with devices. Google is announcing new partners today who have updated Android apps that can talk to beacons placed in stores, museums, and airports.
Nearby is a part of Google Play Services and third-party app developers have already been able to add device-to-device communication features to their apps. For instance, Pocket Casts uses the feature to seek nearby users and share top podcasts. Additionally, Chrome 49, released a few months ago, allows beacons to interface with the browser and show notifications to webpages.
Today’s announcement required the placements of many physical beacons. Partners and features include:
- 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.
To use Nearby, Bluetooth and Location have to be enabled all the time. The first time a user comes across a beacon, they will receive a notification asking them if they want to be alerted in the future. If not, users will no longer see prompts, but Nearby can be re-enabled in settings.
In addition to apps, beacons can also be used to open webpages and are frequently used to market products or provide event information at venues. Select Google devices, like Android Wear and Google Cast, will also show notifications when you’re near them in order to set up and pair.
Nearby is compatible with Android 4.4 KitKat and rolling out to users as part of an upcoming Google Play Services release.