The introduction of Google’s new Nearby for Android feature is making it easier for mobile users to find content and information from the apps that they use. The new update promises to offer a “new way to discover the things around you” by making apps more relevant in specific locations and situations.
Google Nearby will notify users about things in close proximity that may be helpful. In practical terms, this could mean being able to access and download an audio tour when visiting a historical landmark or using an app for free in-flight entertainment when waiting to board an airplane. Google claims that many smartphone users don’t know about apps that could be useful to them, and Nearby aims to address that.
In order to take advantage of Nearby, users on Android have to turn on Bluetooth and Location in the settings menu. Google will then show a notification for any apps or websites that are relevant and available nearby. Once users are opted in, they will be able to navigate to the app or website immediately by tapping on any of the notifications, or they can remove it by swiping it away.
“Earlier this year, we started experimenting with surfacing websites relevant to a place in Chrome through the Physical Web Project,” Nearby Product Manager Akshay Kannan said in an official blog post. “In addition to displaying relevant apps, Nearby will surface these websites directly from Android. To deploy your own beacons that work with Nearby, check out our developer blog post.”
Publishers and developers will be able to use the beacons to display ads or apps depending on the location. The new feature aims to streamline the user experience for browsing apps, as many people often struggle to find the content that they need via Google Play’s extensive directory.
Nearby is already becoming available to some users through the forthcoming Google Play Services release, and it will work on all compatible smartphones that can run Android 4.4 (KitKat) or above. Nearby will also be available on a range of other select Google devices, including Android Wear and Google Cast.