Google Introduces New Open Format And Developer Tools For Working With BLE Beacons

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Google today introduced a number of new products around Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons in an effort to challenge Apple’s iBeacon ecosystem.

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These new products include a new open beacon format, tools and APIs for building apps and services on top of beacons, and a new developer-centric service for managing and monitoring large beacon deployments.

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It’s no secret that Google has long been interested in Bluetooth beacons. About a year ago, we first heard about Google’s Nearby project, for example, which is also launching as an API today. While Nearby also uses other signals (WiFi, audio, etc.), BLE beacons are clearly at the center of Google’s efforts.

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The first of Google’s new beacon products — and the cornerstone of its other initiatives — is the Eddystone format (named after an English lighthouse, in case you were wondering). This new format, which the company is releasing under the Apache 2.0 open source license on Github today, is meant to give developers a more robust and extensible way for working with beacons, as Google product manager Matthew Kulick told me earlier this week.