Google’s Plan to Change the Proximity Landscape and Make It Its Own
With updates to Eddystone, Instant Apps, and Nearby notifications on Android, Google is shaping the location landscape to its specifications, writes Blesh’s Ugur Gokdere.
It has been almost a year since Google officially introduced its beacon format, Eddystone, and made its eventual entrance into the proximity market.
Much has happened since then — and during its annual developers conference, Google I/O 2016, held last month at the Shoreline Amphitheater. Google introduced a bunch of new advances to its platform, proving the company is on course to create a seamless micro-location experience for its users and define the standards of the proximity scene.
Google was already working on sensors and beacons and led the open Physical Web project, with beacons called UriBeacons, in late 2014. What set apart the project from yet another sensor-based, micro-location tool was its reliance on mobile web instead of apps; the Eddystone format supported both by sending out UID and URLs, but it was clear Google was after an app-less, frictionless format.
In last month’s Google I/O conference, Google laid its focus mostly on location, micro-moments, and context. Among the announcements regarding location were a beacon management platform, Instant Apps, and advances to the Nearby API on Android N.
A New Platform For Managing Beacons
The Eddystone format got a security upgrade earlier this spring with the launch of Ephemeral-IDs, a new security and privacy frame format, along with a mobile application to register the beacons.
The app had its challenges with configuring and managing beacons deployed in the field, but Google has now announced a new dashboard to make it easier to manage the beacons. With this platform, you can manage every aspect of a beacon including its location, stability parameters, and even properties assigned to it. (See the dashboard here: https://developers.google.com/beacons/dashboard)
Intent-Based Instant Apps
Regarded as one of the most exciting announcements at the I/O event, Instant Apps enables developers to make the content on their apps available through a deep link URL. This way, users will not have to download the app to access the content and will view it on their browser instead. This is expected to take a toll on app installs, but it also means a great deal for user experience with less consumption on power, data, and capacity.
Nearby Notifications On Android N
Users who allow nearby notifications to be sent to their phone (if they have Android N installed) will be sent contextual, low priority notifications. Taking the user experience into account, these notifications will not have a sound or buzz, but be there at the notification center when the user really needs to be aware of them.
These notifications will prompt them to either install an app from the Google Play store or open a website. Similar to Instant Apps, the notifications may also trigger users to open content from an app without downloading it.
As these improvements to its proximity solutions suggest, Google seems to be more into location than ever, especially with its data capability — and its shaping the location landscape to its specifications.
** Ugur Gokdere is CTO and co-founder at Blesh