Yesterday, Google introduced (or expanded) a new feature for Android users called “Nearby.” It’s a location-based system for notifying Android smartphone owners of apps (and sites) that are potentially useful or relevant in real time based on where they are.
Google provides some use cases in its post:
- Print photos directly from your phone at CVS Pharmacy.
- Explore historical landmarks at the University of Notre Dame.
- Download the audio tour when you’re at The Broad in L.A.
- Skip the customs line at select airports with Mobile Passport.
- Download the United Airlines app for free in-flight entertainment while you wait at the gate.
Android devices (including Android watches) running KitKat or later are compatible with Nearby.
Beyond letting users know of content or experiences that might be relevant or helpful, Nearby effectively is another app marketing/discovery tool and a way to help developers engage users.
It’s also a way to get Android users to opt into location services and notifications. That, in turn, supports things like Store Visits data for Google AdWords. There’s a “virtuous cycle” here for Google and developers.
For Nearby to function, users must turn on Bluetooth and location services. Nearby relies on beacons, which can also trigger mobile webpages or experiences via Chrome. There’s more information on the technical side of this in the Google Developer Blog post.
Recent consumer surveys have shown that Android users tend to be more receptive (if less responsive) to notifications than iOS users. However, overall, a majority of users are resistant to notifications. Location is a way to personalize and make notifications more relevant and overcome that resistance.
The following video is from the recent Google I/O session on Nearby: