Google is reportedly working on an update to Google Now that will allow contextually aware interactions between people, places and things, according to AndroidPolice. The search giant has always been interested in the space around us, and is looking to take that to the next level with the new feature, which is supposedly called Nearby. Usually AndroidPolice gives rumors a rating based on how likely they are to come true, but this one isn’t even given one because they believe the information is a sure thing.
According to the information provided, the feature will periodically turn on your mic, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other necessary features to get a sense for where you are. If you’re close to a friend, Nearby might let you know. At Starbucks? Nearby might provide you with a deal currently taking place there, or allow you to easily launch your Starbucks information. Google’s predictive intelligence is smart as it is, but it could become even more helpful with the addition of Nearby, allowing you to do things without even touching your device.
It sounds like the more people use Nearby, the better it’ll get. Services such as Location History and Location Reporting will need to be turned on in order for google to store this data to improve the service but, from what we can tell, Nearby will most definitely be an opt-in feature, giving you control over the information you’re constantly sending to Google. Nearby sounds a bit like Apple’s iBeacon, which contextually alerts users when they are in proximity to hardware specific to that feature. As AndroidPolice notes, it could be a boon for easy home automation.
There are a series of screenshots included with the rumor, though the feature is still reportedly in early days and not quite ready for primetime. Google has an I/O conference scheduled for the end of this month, so we could potentially get our first glimpse at the feature there. It might not seem like the most exciting feature now, but it could become something much larger once developers start tapping into it. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any further information on Nearby as we move closer to Google I/O.