Google Releases Next Version Of Nearby Connections

Google has released a publicly available API that allows an Internet-enabled device to detect the proximity of other devices through Bluetooth and WiFi, giving machines the ability to communicate with things near them -- even offline.

These machines can communicate your preferences. For example, imagine walking into a hotel room and having the temperature in the room perfectly set to a desired degree, and the station on the radio or television turned to your favorite channel. As you walk into the room, your personal device communicates with the devices in the room to ensure that everything is set with your preferences.

This next generation of Nearby Connections, as Google calls it, enables advertising and the discovery of nearby devices -- using WiFi, Bluetooth LE and Classic Bluetooth to discover and establish connections. The API is now available across all Android devices running Google Play services 11.0 and up, explains Ritesh Nayak, product manager at Google.



Google announced the technology update at this year's I/O developer's conference, and described how it would take the next generation of APIs offline. The API can provide high bandwidth, low latency, encrypt data transfers between nearby devices through P2P.

At the heart of this API is a connection using Unix-socket-like semantics that transfers bytes, files, or streams of data through two supported connection topologies. The first called Star, which acts as the central device that talks to the others. The second called Cluster, used to create looser mesh-like networks.

As a part of the project of building out this API, Nayak explains that Google is working with a few partners, each with unique needs to transfer data offline. One partner, The Weather Channel, is building on-demand mesh networks in data-deficient areas to spread urgent weather warnings.

Hotstar is enabling the ability to share offline media in places where Internet access is limited or where there is no connectivity at all.

GameInsight is using the API to find nearby players and run games offline, and Android TV is building a remote control app to simplify initial setup and enable subsequent second screen experiences.

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