Google’s “Eddystone” is on the battleground with iBeacon

In 2013, when Apple unveiled its proud technology iBeacon, Bluetooth enabled beacons to beep information from around you via iOS devices. Recently, Google launched Eddystone as a more open version of iBeacon that can be the integral of Android. It is a cross platform, open source, and Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon that provides location-based information in the devices.

Imagine you are walking down the street wondering where to tease your appetite and you are notified by  restaurant about the exquisite menu with great discounts. It’s like your mobile knows what you exactly want plus you get to know what’s around the corner. Now that’s cool! The name is inspired from the Eddystone Lighthouse in the UK. As the lighthouses escort the ships in the night, likely the beacons guide users and apps in the real world.  Eddystone is a robust and extensible beacon standard.

iOS being the tech sophistication comes with a large price tags, is hardly affordable by the middle class. On the other hand, Apple is defensive with its technology so much so  that when one company, Radius Networks altered iBeacon to run on Android, Apple made sure the product was shut down. The fact that iBeacon is only confide to iOS devices gives no room for other users. It is not the same with Eddystone and other Google products.

Google tries to democratize higher end technology at a reasonable price. It’s an open frame that is compatible with both Android and iOS which makes it stand out strong from iBeacon. Eddystone is built into ‘Google Play Services’ Nearby API on Android, and it can be used on iOS devices through a library. Being open source, it is customizable and is available on GitHub under the Apache v2.0 license.

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The flexibility in Eddystone is due to its unique frame types. Bluetooth beacons are one-sided communicator that lets the admin send notification and upon clicked by the user the information is completely displayed. This makes the Eddystone an all-purpose advantage for different vendors, which is possible due to different frame types used.

Developers can contemplate applications, which can locate for beacons and act upon them. Universally Unique Identifier (UUID) helps in identifying every beacon differently; an app can recognize it through UUID and act accordingly. Sending notification via URL instead of a UUID is a realistic approach because the information opens in a web browser.  EID (Ephemeral Identifiers), this frame type is a secured one. It’s like an owned beacon that only authorized users can read. The forth frame type, Telemetry majorly  deals with uncountable number of beacons.

Google Play Services, the Nearby API, and the Proximity Beacon cloud service are all proprietary. It seems Google is playing the Android/Google Play Services card again. The model has an open source interface but to access all the attributes, the developers need proprietary from Google. The best part is visiting Google Play Services provides bonus of better battery verve and tailor-made API. The Play Services sets up the Bluetooth connection to search for beacons.

Eddystone need not be bounded to Google though. The developers can render the users with best of the experience and spare the time by submitting the app to Google Play Store. If the developers are seeking to use their own client API or cloud solution, it can be done. Zoning out of Google’s world will lead to cumbersome work.

 

Megha Das

Megha Das is an IT graduate from National Institute of Science & Technology. Besides being a technical writer, she is an avid blogger, voracious reader and a creative persona. When she isn’t hooked to her writing cell, she hones up her culinary skills and taps her way to dancing trance.
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