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Apple’s iBeacon will soon have an Android rival

Published Jun 9th, 2014 6:50AM EDT
Google Nearby vs Apple iBeacon

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Google is working on offering Android users features based on elements in their proximity, including people, places and things, Android Police reports. Google’s “Nearby” feature for Android will apparently be similar to Apple’s iBeacon technology that’s already used in Apple retail stores and other locations to deliver notifications and trigger certain features for iOS users.

“Nearby lets you connect, share, and do more with people, places, and things near you,” a Nearby onboarding screen seen by Android Police reads. “When Nearby is turned on for your account, Google can periodically turn on the mic, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and similar features on all your current and future devices. Google+ and other Google services need this access to help you connect, share, and more.”

“When you turn on Nearby, you’re also turning on Location History for your account and Location Reporting for this device. Google needs these services to periodically store your location data for use by Nearby, other Google services, and more.”

For Nearby to work, Google will apparently employ technology from Bump and SlickLogin, services acquired by the company, to determine the Android user’s proximity to certain locations and/or people.

The Nearby feature can obviously be used for various ad-related and commercial purposes, but it can also open the door to various automation and smart home features, as well as contacts-related features.

It’s not clear when Nearby will be rolled out, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google further explain the feature during its upcoming I/O event.

Apple’s proximity-based features in iOS will further evolve with iOS 8. Apple has already demoed on stage its Continuity software feature that brings iOS and OS X even closer, allowing the user to continue activities started on one operating system on the other OS, when devices running them are nearby. Similarly, another iOS 8 feature will allow app developers to automatically trigger certain features based on the user’s location, such as stores readying certain apps for quick use from the lock screen.

Leaked images that show a development version of Googl’es upcoming Nearby feature follow below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.