How Google Nearby (really) works – and what else it does?

Franck Legendre By Franck Legendre

First rumors of Google Nearby appeared early June 2014 and many expected an announcement at Google I/O a few weeks later. Two Google I/Os later, it is finally out! So how does Google Nearby (really) work? And what data you have to give away to Google to make it work?

Nearby has two main APIs: Nearby.Connections and Nearby.Messages. Nearby.Connections allows the discovery of devices connected to be on the same Wi-Fi network using multicast packets sent over the access point. Nearby.Messages doesn’t require devices to be on the same Wi-Fi network. Instead, it uses various ad hoc radio technologies to broadcast a random token others can listen to. It does, however, require both devices to have their screen awake and to be online in order to work and we’ll see why next. In this post, we’ll only focus only on Nearby.Messages.

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Proximity through the eyes of Wi-Fi Aware and Google Nearby – An Industry Insight

Franck Legendre By Franck Legendre

Last week was the forefront of two major tech announcements: Google’s Nearby API and Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi Aware certification program.

Wi-Fi Aware, also called Wi-Fi NAN for Neighbor Awareness Networking, extends “Wi-Fi with real-time and energy efficient discovery” according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. The certification program is the last step before first chips being produced by chip makers are certified and can be commercialized to smartphone and access point manufacturers.

Google Nearby provides a proximity API, Nearby Messages, for iOS and Android devices to discover and communicate with each other. Nearby will be provided through a forthcoming update of the Google Play Services.

These are two great pieces of news. Why? First, proximity is gaining momentum and a key player – Google – is now entering the scene. Second, Wi-Fi Aware has the potential to become a key enabler technology for proximity and we can’t wait getting our hands on it.

That said, let’s not get too excited too soon and go through a quick reality check.

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