Google's 'physical web' is finally coming to Chrome on Android

Last summer Google launched Eddystone, a cross-platform, open source standard for Bluetooth LE beacons that can be set in the real world and can ping your phone or smart devices with information. Since then, iPhone users have been able to test the system and what Google is calling “the physical web”. Now, the system is finally coming to Android as well.

While there’s a lot of nomenclature thrown around, Google’s physical web is a simple enough concept to understand: there are physical devices strewn around the real world, called beacons, and when you pass by one, your phone or smart device will get a bit of information, like a webpage, that it will notify you about.

The system is starting to be used in real-world scenarios, albeit quite limited ones for now. Some educational institutions are using it to notify students of their schedules or announcements, while at CES 2016, the system was used to help visitors around exhibits, and also to stage a scavenger hunt.

The type of notification an Android user might see from a beacon

Unfortunately, until now, only those using Chrome on an iPhone could take part in such activities thanks to Google’s decision to launch the product there first, in a bid to compete with Apple’s iBeacon. But soon, Android users using Chrome 49 will also be able to take advantage of this functionality. The first time a user passes by a beacon they’ll get a notification asking them if they wish to continue using the system, with subsequent encounters only resulting in a silent notification on the user’s device.

Of course, the system is still nascent, so there are bound to be further improvements and capabilities developed down the line. It’s also rare to encounter a beacon in the real world right now, but that may soon change if Google has its way, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

Have you ever had a run in with “the physical web”? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Chromium Blog

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