Thursday, October 26, 2017

IMPORTANT! Chrome Physical Web Changes!

 Oct 25, 2017

Michal Mocny, Google


Over the last few years, Physical Web features have piecewise graduated out of our small project within Chrome and into EddystoneNearby & Notifications, and the Beacon platform.  With the majority of our original work now built into the Android platform, it’s now time to clean up a few remaining Physical Web features from Chrome:

  • Physical Web scanning will no longer be included in the revamped iOS Widget in M62.
  • We will be disabling our omnibox experiments in Chrome for Android.
  • We will remove remaining Physical Web settings and diagnostics pages from Chrome.

These remaining Chrome features haven't had the uptake to suggest that Chrome UI is the right place to surface beacons.  The iOS widget was a useful tool for demos but was not actively used by many real users near beacons.  The omnibox experiments were a hopeful project but did not have much impact in practice.

These changes are only to the way that the Chrome browser scans for beacons; otherwise, the various beacon functionality across Google products -- including Nearby, the developer APIs for app integrations, and use of beacons as a location signal across Google products -- are unaffected.

I’d like to take this chance to review how far we’ve come.

In 2015, we evolved the URIBeacon project into Eddystone-URL, completing our goal of creating a truly great open URL beacon format.  It has since become hugely popular, and usage is continuing to grow.  We added our first PW feature into the iOS Widget, as an exploration and as a signal to the world.  We started working with the Nearby team on the grand idea of having the Android platform itself offer a scanner for all nearby relevant content.

In 2016, we added Physical Web to Chrome for Android and was our first attempt at using Notifications to help users become aware of beacon content.  When Nearby shipped, Physical Web results became available to tenfold more users.

Today, Android users can discover Nearby content without installing an app, and Nearby Notifications, when paired with good content that is relevant to users, can have massive aggregate reach and impact.  On iOS, many developers have also added URL beacon scanning to their own scanner apps as a way to add proximity context, benefitting from the flexibility of URLs, such as server-side content management.

We're excited to watch as you build on the platform that's available to you, and to see where you take the standard.

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