Google’s Nearby first launched mid last year to developers, offering several new functionalities based on proximity to a few different types of short range transmissions. Today, Google has announced that a consumer implementation of a Nearby “receiver” is now shipping in Google Play Services for all Android 4.4 and above devices.
Once your phone gets the Nearby update, you may begin to get location-based notifications suggestions for apps or websites when you are in the proximity of a beacon or location. Google tells the story of getting a handy scanning app when in a store or a useful guide to a museum you are in, and these things sound great. Unfortunately, the web is full of opportunistic individuals who will more than likely use this to send you notifications as you walk past an advertising box in a shopping centre or prompt you to download a loyalty app you don’t want for the Xth time.
Google also discussed how Nearby could be used to simplify the Bluetooth pairing process with Android Wear or Chromecast devices and that sounds like an excellent implementation. I can see additional uses for pairing devices like a Bluetooth speaker or headphone?
Imagine simply taping a pairing button on your headphones and getting a notification on all your Nearby devices, you just pair to the one you want and your off. While NFC can achieve a similar outcome, not all phones have NFC built in so this could be a more widely available implementation of that sort of frictionless pairing. Considering this morning’s announcement about headphone jacks it may well be needed, and soon.
I also see some correlation between Nearby and Instant Apps. For apps that implement the Instant Apps modular design you wouldn’t even need to install the app, simply walk in tap the notification, get just the features you need and leave. This could become a very handy feature, especially if Google can figure out a way to manage logging you into services using Instant Apps.
In the announcement, Google stated, “If you’re not interested, just swipe it away to give us a clear signal.” Hopefully, this signals that Google has built in tools to help manage spammy Nearby notifications and prevent notification fatigue.
In the meantime we’ll be keeping our eyes out for any notifications nearby!
Where would you like to see a Nearby beacon with notifications? Let us know below.