Sunday, December 17, 2017

Google Nearby 101

It has been a huge challenge for business owners how to get people download their apps so that they can send notifications containing rich information about their products, services and promotions. One of the best idea how to get people's attention is to send them notifications even if they have not downloaded the app. This is a good idea aside from hiring somebody to be stationed in front of the store to convince people download the app and giving away flyers. The advantage of the electronic form is that it can be done 24/7 all year round.

Google introduced sometime in 2016 the Physical Web integrated with Chrome Internet Browser and using Eddystones. But the transmission and detection is intermitent and unreliable so it did not became very popular. About 7 months ago(not so sure) Google introduced the Nearby Messaging Service to replace the Physical Web and I only got to know about this 3 days ago and since then, I had been experimenting with it. Based on my tests, this is more stable and reliable even though the greatest setback is that the smartphone has to be connected to the internet to retrieve information about the beacon and in order to receive the notification, the screen must be opened and bluetooth and location services must also be turned on. But at least the service is consistent and stable. I also noticed that the notification had no sound at least on my cherry mobile flare xl 2 and the samsung s8 which I experimented with at the concept store and the notification disappears all by itself after 10 to 20 minutes. I wonder why google did not made the notification the same as receiving an sms message. The aliexpress app had the same notification characteristics as the sms messaging. Or at least google provided a way to let users configure it that way. And lastly, do take note that once the notification is deleted, it will not reappear too soon because of google's standard notification backoff policy. I figured a way to make the notification reappear quickly by disabling - enabling the bluetooth service.

All android smartphones with at least KitKat(4.43) version had this Google Nearby. And are ready to receive the Eddystone signal. The photo below is the screenshot of my SKK Android Kitkat showing the notification from google nearby and the physical web software. Both notifications came from the same eddystone beacon. In this device, both google nearby and physical web are not reliable. I just forced both software to detect the beacon signal.

Here is how I made the google nearby worked:

1. I created a Google Cloud Platform Project. This should be easy because if you are in the Beacon Dashboard which can be found here link, The first screen will abvice you to create a project.:
And here is the project I created:

2. After you created the project, it will take you back to the first screen and click your project to select it.

3. Download the Beacon Tools app in Play Store to register the beacon. Open the app and it will ask you to choose your project. Just select your project and the next screen will detect your beacon unregistered. The screen shot below shows the Eddystone URL frame. This frame cant be registered in Google Nearby. Only the UID or EID frames are allowed which I already did. Just make sure that the eddystone is in connectible mode.

And here is the registered UID Frame:
And here is the registration screen:

I only populated the Description field and saved the registration on this android app.

4. I went back to the Beacon Dashboard and clicked on the project and it has taken me to the screen that lists all active beacons on that project.

5. I clicked the active beacon I registered in the Beacon Tools app, and has taken me to a screen that allows me to further configure the beacon:

In this screen, I populated all the fields and added just one property and went to the second tab(create attachment).

 Even though I had no idea what it is for, I just created a dummy data:

And here is the attachment I created:

And lastly, I created the Nearby Notification:

I saved the data I entered. My main objective here is to just send a notification message which when clicked, will open my blog to an internet browser on the smartphone.

And here is the final result showing the Eddystone URL link:

I have not explained in detail what each fields are for because I am also a beginner trying to make the Google Nearby work and so that I can check if it is stable and yes it was! There are other message types that will allow the user to open the app of the eddystone owner if it was already installed or will open the google play store which displays the app and the user will have to click the download button and install the app.

To complete my experiment, I went to a nearest Samsung Concept store and brought along my Eddystone to check if other android smartphones can detect the signal without doing any configuration and it was a success, I did not took any picture because I did not bring along my phone so that I can fully test it. Bringing along my phone could influence the result.

I still see a lot cons than pros but the best part of it is that the service is very stable and reliable and google has solved the huge problem how to get people' attention to get them download the business owner's app.

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