UPDATE: Since this post went up I have had some people poke around and let me know the enthusiasm for this development may be a little premature, like 8-12 months.
Blue Bite founder Mikhail Damiani pays a lot of attention to any technology that bridges media to mobile, including beacons. I asked him what was up here:
“We’ve been staying on top of what Google has been doing with Chrome and their other initiatives as part of our roadmap. In light of the conversation we had yesterday I’d like to add some additional color to their announcement yesterday,” he wrote.
“This web standard allows websites to serve push notifications and work offline for short periods of time. This service, as Google explains, is intended to prevent users from needing to check a website several times throughout the day. Chrome 42’s implementation of the Push API or Service Workers does not support Bluetooth Beacon API for web apps. Device GPS information is available to a website upon request, as it has been since Chrome 4. But this should not be mistaken with device Bluetooth access, which is strictly restricted to Android APIs available only to native, compiled applications.”
Google may have just changed the game for all those companies and brands trying to get beacons and push notifications used in retail and other public settings, by embedding the capability in the Chrome browser.
One of the big gating factors with beacons is that in order for people to get the messages and “engage” with the retailer, brand or venue, smartphone users need to have the app for that brand or place. When they go somewhere else, they need another app.
With the new release of the Chrome browser, you need that on your phone. No dedicated apps. Just tweaks to the mobile web site.
This post from proximity marketing service provider Tapit will explain it way better than I can:
The announcement from Google allows websites to natively leverage “Push Notifications” as a way of creating deeper experiences with their websites either via mobile or desktop without the need for the user to have an app installed on their Smartphone or Desktop.
All the user has to have on their device is the Chrome browser app.
The initial websites to have enabled this new functionality include Facebook, Pinterest and eBay and will be launching in the “coming weeks” according to Google.
This latest news from Google is a huge step forward for brands and marketers looking to leverage the power of the Internet of Things as a way of interacting with consumers directly from physical objects or environments. Previously, with IoT technology such as Beacons, a user had to have a pre-installed app specific to the particular brand who wanted to deploy and interface with their Beacons.
With the Google announcement, this issue is completely removed as Google recognizes (and as Tapit has been publicly saying for over 4 years), brands are tired of building apps and consumers are tired of downloading apps as it’s clearly a cycle that generates zero-sum value for all concerned.
Now with Google Chrome, brands can create websites that directly interface with Beacons that are still controlled via an IoT cloud platform like Tapit but don’t need the user to install any app on their device. Chrome is handling the entire operation for you and because the Chrome app is on hundreds of millions of devices this allows brands to deploy IoT projects leveraging Beacon technology at scale.
And here’s what Google says:
One of the web’s superpowers is its low friction: a new site is always only a single tap away, allowing users to easily navigate through a rich diversity of experiences. The mobile web provides a great discovery experience for users and unparalleled reach for developers.
Unfortunately, once users discover an experience they love, it is hard for them to build a meaningful relationship since websites lack the engaging capabilities developers have come to expect from mobile such as push notifications and home screen icons. As a result, developers have needed to decide between the engagement potential of a native app and the reach potential of a mobile website.
Chrome 42 addresses this dilemma by allowing users to engage more deeply with the mobile web experiences that are important to them, by both opting in to receive push notifications directly from websites and easily adding regularly-visited high-quality sites to their home screen.
Timely, personalized notifications save users the effort of manually checking for updates throughout the day and have enabled a host of new experiences from real time communication to live updates on breaking news.
This release of Chrome supports the new emerging web standard for push notifications on Android and desktop, enabling users to opt in to allow a specific website to send them push notifications just like an installed native app. Over the coming weeks, mobile web users will be able to opt in to receiving push notifications from early adopters including Beyond the Rack, eBay, Facebook, FanSided, Pinterest, Product Hunt, and VICE News. Roost and Mobify also provide services that make it easy for developers to integrate web-based push notifications into their site with minimal custom implementation work.
I’m told by guys who wake up thinking about beacons that right now the Chrome support is for sites, and beacons is a bit down the road.
The peril here, as you might expect, is that people could get absolutely carpet-bombed by notifications when they walk into a mall or squirt out a subway station in a busy downtown.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.