Google has joined the crowded beacon ecosystem with its new open-source Eddystone platform. In a statement, Google said:
“Just like lighthouses have helped sailors navigate the world for thousands of years, electronic beacons can be used to provide precise location and contextual cues within apps to help you navigate the world. For instance, a beacon can label a bus stop so your phone knows to have your ticket ready, or a museum app can provide background on the exhibit you’re standing in front of. Today, we’re beginning to roll out a new set of features to help developers build apps using this technology. This includes a new open format for Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons to communicate with people’s devices, a way for you to add this meaningful data to your apps and to Google services, as well as a way to manage your fleet of beacons efficiently.”
The big difference between Eddystone and Apple’s iBeacon is that Google will be encouraging 3rd-party developers to use it. Eddystone is open-source and cross-platform, meaning that hardware can easily be updated to be compatible with the protocol.
Google has also launched two new APIs for developers to leverage on top of Eddystone: “The Nearby API for Android and iOS makes it easier for apps to find and communicate with nearby devices and beacons, such as a specific bus stop or a particular art exhibit in a museum, providing better context. And the Proximity Beacon API lets developers associate semantic location (i.e., a place associated with a lat/long) and related data with beacons, stored in the cloud. This API will also be used in existing location APIs, such as the next version of the Places API.”
Though there are multiple beacon platforms existing today that work with both iOS and Android, Google has essentially raised the stakes by throwing its hat into the ring. Eddystone will spark a new wave of interest and excitement in beacons from some of the smartest developers around the world.