Google, Android

The Android team believes that currently there are a ton of apps that are meant to be used at particular destinations and locations, which can help you get things done pretty smoothly and easily. And Google wants to do just that!

Google is hence introducing a new feature to Android that will help users discover everything that’s relevant to them around that particular location. This new feature is being dubbed as Nearby, and it notifies you of apps and websites that can be helpful for you in that particular location at that particular moment.

Let’s take an example to better explain the proposition at hand, suppose you’re at a museum, the nearby feature will alert you about the audio tour that can enhance your experience around the exhibits, or suppose you visit a shopping mall or a general store to buy goods, then it would suggest you a barcode scanner to help you scan and read reviews of certain products.

The ‘proximity based experience’ — as Google calls it, has already been deployed by some developers using the beacon technology and Nearby. These include CVS PharmacyUniversity of Notre DameThe Broad in LA and the United Airlines app for free in-flight entertainment.


In addition to notifying user about relevant apps, the Nearby feature will also show you notifications to open helpful websites based on your location. The feature to float websites when the notification for the Nearby location is tapped, has been made possible in Chrome only due to Physical Web project introduced last year.

The Nearby feature however is ‘opt-in’ and not opt out by default, which means user have to turn on the feature to make use of it. Also, the use of push notifications makes the Nearby feature more intuitive and effortless. You have the option to either tap the notification to take you to the intended experience or just swipe it like you do to pass on the opportunity to try something new.

Nearby has started rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services update and will work on Android 4.4 and above. In addition to Google devices, it will also work with Google Cast and Android Wear watches, which will set up the required applications or websites once you tap the notification of the product near that location.

But, don’t you think that this nearby feature will work better if used in synergy with Instant Apps, which was demoed at the Google I/O conference. The users should be shown a notification listing the different functions they can make use-of in the relevant location. They should then have the power to be able to download only parts of the application that they desire to and space precious phone space in the process.

Even though Instant Apps is currently in beta testing and will not roll out to user until the next year, but it seems that the Nearby feature has been built just to work with Instant Apps and elevate the Android experience.

This is Google’s approach at empowering the developers to make their apps more visible, and available to a larger audience with the use of the Nearby beacon technology and Instant Apps. While Apple is also trying to help developers by introducing major changes to the App Store, including Search Ads, better monetization policies and shorter app review times.

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