Google is moving forward with its plans to allow Bluetooth beacons to broadcast location-based information and URLs to your phone. The Bluetooth-based technology is designed so that a subway can tell you when the next train is coming, or a nearby parking meter can alert you how to pay when you park. This seamless interaction with, what Google calls, the "physical web" has long been promised, but an upcoming update to Chrome for Android will make it more of a reality.
The next Chrome release will get Bluetooth beacons support
Chrome for iOS started communicating with beacons last year with a widget you had to open from an iPhone's today screen, but Google's own Android operating system will get true native integration. Starting with Chrome 49, which is currently in beta testing, Chrome for Android will start supporting Bluetooth beacons. When you're close to a beacon you'll get an alert asking you to enable the physical web, and Chrome will list all nearby beacons.
Outside of Apple's iBeacons, Bluetooth beacons haven't been widely used yet. Bluetooth beacon manufacturer Radius Networks deployed 1,500 beacons at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year to help attendees navigate the vast showrooms. The technology itself has a vast potential to be useful, but also irritating. Being able to navigate inside buildings accurately sounds beneficial, but there's always the potential that marketers or stores will use this as yet another way to grab our attention.