Sunday, December 24, 2017

Google Nearby Troubleshooting Guide and the Minew Eddystones

This serves as a continuation of my post Google Nearby 101. As I have mentioned in my previous post, there are a bunch of cons that a developer should be aware of using Google Nearby. In summary, here are the cons:

  1. smartphone has to be connected to the internet
  2. the screen must be opened to receive the notification
  3. bluetooth and location services must also be turned on
  4. notification had no sound
  5. the notification disappears all by itself after 10 to 20 minutes(sometimes less than 2 minutes)
  6. once the notification is deleted, it will not reappear too soon because of google's standard notification backoff policy

One important information that I have not mentioned in my previous post although it is not con but it is very important is that the URL must be "https" other than this, the configuration will not work.

Knowing the cons can help in speeding up the development of Apps. Another important aspect to take note of is that the Nearby Service is not in the hands of developers and there are occasions when Google shuts down the service which may trick other developers which will make them think that Google NearBy is not stable. Based on my personal experience this is how I was able to determine that when my smartphone is not able to get the notification and the cause is that the Google Nearby Service is not running is as follows:

I used several apps to check if my eddystones are working like the following: 
  1.  Ibeacon Detector. This app when run in Android 6.0 shows the different frames coming from the eddystones by refreshing the screen each time it receives the new frame. If there is no new frame received, the screen does not refresh so I know when the eddystones is not working.
  2.  nRf Connect App. This app does the same thing as the Ibeacon Detector app but it identifies the frame type and shows each values it receives with proper labeling like the temperature, uuid, instance id, etc. so this is better the Ibeacon Detector App.
  3. BeaconSet+. This app shows all the frames it received and it does not refresh the screen. It will not be able to detect the eddystones if the datat it receives is incomplete.
 I use these 3 apps to confirm if the source of error is coming from the Google Nearby Service using the logic: "My eddystones are working but I am not able to receive the notification but I confirm that a few minutes ago, it was working fine."

The Hardware
For some other reasons, knowing better the Eddystone being used can also be very important. As a developer, your knowledge of how the eddystones work should be at leas above average or at least know more than the end-user. You should be very familiar how it operates and know when the battery is still fully charged.

The eddystones I am using(Minew I6 models) operates this way:

  1. Upon insertion of the battery, it goes to connectible mode for 1 minute. During this mode, it will not transmit the URL and TLM frames. 
  2. You can use the nRF Connect to configure the eddystones while in connectible mode.
  3. Google Nearby will not work during this 1 minute period.
  4. I determine if the battery charge is weak when I put 2 beacons in close range which will make them compete to get their signals be received by other devices, and the ones that loose is the one with weak battery charge. Although the measured battery charge level shown in nRF Connect can also be accurate.
For now, all of this information is based on my personal experiences which I am so willing to share.

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