The Physical Web expands to Chrome for Android

The Physical Web helps users discover URLs relevant to their surroundings via Eddystone bluetooth low-energy beacons. Last year, Chrome for iOS took an initial step in supporting the Physical Web, and the community has already begun exploring promising applications. Starting in version 49, Chrome for Android will also surface Physical Web content, making these experiences available to an even larger audience.

As Physical Web-enabled beacons are becoming more widespread, developers are experimenting with the platform in various ways. One Physical Web demo posted by a Mozilla community contributor shows users how to use bluetooth beacons to discover and interact with a drone. Brookwood Middle School uses beacons from BKON to circulate class notes, sports accomplishments, and news updates. Radius Networks, a beacon manufacturer, recently deployed 1,500 beacons to help attendees of CES® (Consumer Electronics Show) navigate showrooms. The Golden State Warriors utilize the Physical Web with the help of Signal360 to provide fans with highlight videos and welcome content at Oracle Arena.

* Physical Web bluetooth beacons enabled a scavenger hunt at CES® 2016.*

Now, Physical Web developers can reach Chrome for Android users as well, starting with the Beta channel and rolling out more widely soon. When these users walk by a beacon for the first time, they’ll receive a notification allowing them to enable the Physical Web. On future encounters with beacons, users can quickly see a list of nearby URLs by tapping on a non-vibrating notification waiting for them.

Physical Web experience on Chrome for Android

Developers can make their web content discoverable on the Physical Web by configuring an Eddystone-supported beacon to broadcast a URL of their choice with the Eddystone-URL frame type. Now that the Physical Web is tightly integrated into Chrome for Android, a single deployment can deliver contextual information to Chrome users across multiple mobile platforms.

As we continue to improve the Physical Web experience, we’re excited to see what types of contextual experiences developers build. We encourage anyone to join the conversation on our mailing list and visit the Physical Web cookbook to learn more about what’s possible.

Posted by Ani Mohan, Physical Web Voyager

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