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This article was published on February 11, 2016

Chrome for Android can now talk to physical objects in the real world

Chrome for Android can now talk to physical objects in the real world
Amanda Connolly
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Amanda Connolly

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Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and ed Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and editorial at the Web Summit. She’s interested in all things tech, with a particular fondness for lifestyle and creative tech and the spaces where these intersect. Twitter

Google’s Physical Web allows phones to connect with devices around them, like bus stops or parking meters, and receive information directly without using another app. 

The feature has been in testing with iOS devices since last summer and now Google is rolling it out to its Android users as well. It is being rolled out to Chrome 49 first, which is still in beta, but Google says it will be available more widely soon.

How the Physical Web works on Android

When you approach a beacon for the first time, you’ll receive a notification with the option to turn on the ‘Physical Web,’ as Google calls it. If you choose to do so, you’ll automatically receive information from beacons you encounter in the future as well.

The beacons can be anything, it’s a similar idea to using QR codes in tourist areas to give people directions and historical facts but it removes the need to search or scan.

They aren’t just for outdoor use either, which makes them quite useful for things like conferences or just large buildings, such as shopping centres and universities. Google says it had more than 1,500 beacons in place at CES this year helping people to navigate the expo.

So while the technology is potentially very useful, Google’s challenge will be to make it something people can rely on in everyday life.

The Physical Web expands to Chrome for Android [Google Chromium Blog]