Wearables have been in the mobile space news again lately, with the news that iWatch sales have slipped significantly.
However, one of the other facets of mobile space and one that has greater enterprise applicability, Internet of Things (IoT) and in this case, beacons have made a number of quiet but significant advances lately. The IBM/Apple partnership released another round of enterprise apps and one, Safe Site includes iBeacon technology to alert people on the job when they are approaching a hazardous area. More importantly, lost in the din of all the announcements coming out of Google I/O 2015 such as Android M is the release of Eddystone Android/Google’s new framework for supporting Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons (I grant you, iBeacons is a sexier/easier to remember name).
Android 4.x supported BLE but in a very limited fashion and Android 5.x improved upon that support but Eddystone is the first effort Google has made to support beacon technology in a significant way. In addition to the base frame format that Apple iBeacon uses, Google has released other frame formats such as a telemetry frame that allows the sending of diagnostic data about the beacon so that its health can be monitored (battery level, etc). Finally, Google has integrated a number of APIs to extend the functionality of beacons. These include the Nearby API and Proximity Beacon API to establish proximity between the beacon and the smartphone and integrates Places API for location awareness. Integrated into Google Play Services, Eddystone is the first fruits of the efforts from developers understanding the uses beacons could play within the enterprise space and pushing Google with statements such as “Android’s support for BLE is fine but it would be better if I could do X …”