Google's already got a plan in motion for taking on Apple's iBeacon technology, which helps developers offer notifications and other alerts specific to your precise location — beyond what Wi-Fi or GPS can do alone. But according to Fortune, at one point Google had an even more ambitious program in the works.
The feature, designed to work inside Google Maps, would've been called Google Here and was slated to launch with some big-name partners including Starbucks. Fortune says that Here would serve up a notification "within five seconds" of a user entering any partner location; you can imagine many of those would be retail stores.
If the user clicked on the notification, a full screen HTLM5 "app" experience would launch. Google Here would know when to send the notification via Google Maps and beacons placed in the stores of participating partners.
Those "apps" would serve up things like store loyalty cards or live public transit schedules, according to the report. This strategy would've gone beyond Apple's iBeacon by making it possible to send out notifications even if an Android user didn't have a particular retailer's app installed on their phone. Instead, everything would happen inside Google Maps, which ranks as one of the company's most popular consumer products.
But that significant level of access to Android consumers might've been one of the things that ultimately killed Google Here. Larry Page apparently made the call to shut down the project, backing his decision with concerns over invasiveness; being pinged by unwanted alerts could quickly prove annoying to users. Google was also uncertain about demand and whether retailers would be receptive to such a program or bother deploying the necessary beacons — even if Google provided them. So for now, Eddystone remains Google's path for helping developers build experiences around your exact location. You don't have to worry about Google Maps pestering you whenever you've entered a Starbucks.