Google Launches Apple iBeacon Rival Eddystone; Unveils Nearby API

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Google Launches Apple iBeacon Rival Eddystone; Unveils Nearby API

Google on Tuesday announced a new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon-based platform, dubbed Eddystone. The platform is said to rival Apple's iBeacon tech. It has been designed to let developers work with beacons to deliver location-based information to users on their smartphones. Google also unveiled its Nearby API, called Nearby Messages, a communications and discovery framework for devices in close proximity.

For those unaware, beacons are low-energy Bluetooth hardware that transmit data to users. Bluetooth is used in this technology as it has a shorter range than Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity. This would result in pin-pointing a more precise location of the user. This tech would help retailers and other firms to send information to the users based on their precise location.

Eddystone, unlike Apple iBeacon, would work with both Android and iOS. The platform can send URLs that would work with any app or a Web browser. Google is also making the platform open source. It has been noted that the company is planning to use beacons to send non-interruptive notifications to Google Now, which can then show location-based suggestions "like showing you menu items when you're inside a restaurant."

Google in its developers blog post has added that, keeping safety and security into consideration, it has built in a feature called Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs) which will change frequently, and will allow only authorised clients to decode them. "EIDs will enable you to securely do things like find your luggage once you get off the plane or find your lost keys." Also, the firm will gradually be improving its Google products with beacons. Notably, Google Maps has already launched beacon-based transit notifications in Portland earlier this year.

The Mountain View giant also finally announced the much-anticipated communications and discovery framework, Nearby, which had been tipped since June last year.

The firm on Tuesday unveiled the Nearby API and Proximity Beacon API for developers. Nearby API has been called Nearby Messages, both for Android and iOS to discover nearby devices, including aforementioned Beacons, and communicate with them. The API uses a mix of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and inaudible sound from the device's microphones and speakers.

The search giant has already included Nearby in Chromecast Guest Mode, Nearby Players in Google Play Games, and Google Tone. The API will be available with the latest release of Google Play Services 7.8. More details can be seen on Google's Developer Blog.

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