Google Brings The Physical Web To Your Phone

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Android version of Chrome will now look to link your device to the world

Google plans to make your smartphone a portal to the world around you thanks to a new smart browser.

The company’s next version of Chrome for Android, version 49 (currently in beta), will be able to alert users to low-energy beacons near to them, which can then be interacted with for interesting information or offers.

This means that walking past a tube station will send a pop-up alert about the next departure, or vouchers being sent when walking past a favourite shop, which is all part of what Google is calling ‘The Physical Web’.

Let’s get physical

smartphone beaconThe first time a user comes into contact with a beacon they receive a notification through Chrome asking if they want to enable the Physical Web. If activated, users will then see notifications that lists what nearby beacons are available, including URLs to be clicked on to visit a linked webpage.

“As we continue to improve the Physical Web experience, we’re excited to see what types of contextual experiences developers build,” Ani Mohan, one of Google’s ‘Physical Web Voyagers’ wrote. “We encourage anyone to join the conversation on our mailing list and visit the Physical Web cookbook to learn more about what’s possible.”

Google first announced its beacon technology, called Eddystone, last July along alongside Chrome for iOS support, with today’s announcement marking the first such Android support.

The company’s virtual assistant platform, Google Now, is also able to make use of Eddystone-supporting beacons, meaning that as you walk into a restaurant, Google Now will give you specific data about where you are and what’s available to you.

The technology has already also been placed in a number of showrooms and sports arenas in the United States, primarily to help users with navigation. By building the identification feature within Chrome, developers will have a large user base of devices that can detect and communicate with beacons.

This will help Google to keep pace with Apple, which has largely led the way in beacon technology so far with its iBeacon rollout.

First released over two years ago, iBeacon is Apple’s attempt to establish beacon technology as a fundamental, mainstream mobile application option, offering companies and organisations a more effective and personal way to interact with their customers.

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