Google is stepping up its efforts to take on Apple’s location technology with new tools to link smartphones to objects nearby.
The search giant on Tuesday introduced a new format called Eddystone, which lets electronic beacons provide more specific locations and other information within applications, said the company in a blog post.
The tools, which aim to compete with Apple’s iBeacon technology, will enable, for example, smartphone users at a museum to get more information about a painting they are looking at or gain easy access to electronic bus tickets when they are near a bus stop.
“We’re beginning to roll out a new set of features to help developers build apps using this technology,” Google said in the blog.
“This includes a new open format for Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) beaconsto communicate with people’s devices, a way for you to add this meaningful data to your apps and to Google services, as well as a way to manage your fleet of beacons efficiently.”
Google is investing in mobile services as users increasingly shift time and attention to smartphones and tablets when they are on the go, pitting the search giant in more ways against Apple.
Google’s Android operating system had 81 per cent of the global smartphone market last year, while Apple’s iOS had 15 per cent, said IT research firm Gartner.
Apple rolled out iBeacon in 2013. Using a low-energy Bluetooth signal, the software makes an iPhone’s proximity to certain items easier to track with the help of signalling-device beacons mounted on shelves and ceilings, each no bigger than a hockey puck. Other providers have also introduced location technology.
Google’s Eddystone will be open to other platforms and has features that work on Android and the iPhone, said the company.
In addition, the tech giant wants to integrate the system into its Google Now service, which gives users contextual information around them before they need to search for it.