Google to let devices talk automatically
Google is getting ready to launch a new service that allows Android phones and tablets to automatically connect with devices in their immediate vicinity.
The service, named “Nearby”, will occasionally turn on the device’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and microphone without the user’s involvement, according to Android Police.
This will let Android devices recognise each other and interact according to the context of where they are, or who they are owned by, for example.
There are also indications it may allow users’ tablets and smartphones to interact with other devices, such as smart home appliances.
Android Police claimed to have seen the Nearby onboarding screen, which reads:
“Nearby lets you connect, share, and do more with people, places, and things near you.
“When you turn on Nearby, you’re also turning on Location History for your account and Location Reporting for this device. Google needs these services to periodically store your location data for use by Nearby, other Google services, and more.”
This raises privacy concerns: the data collected by Google could enable it to track not only your location, but who and what you prefer to interact with, as well as your daily routine.
As yet, there is no indication of when – or if – this function will be released, and Android Police has said Nearby is “still early in its life cycle”.
The service is similar to “Continuity”, the iOS and OS X function that lets apple devices detect when they are near each other, although that’s limited to devices linked by an iCloud account.