Nearby is actually a set of APIs that are available to developers to implement in apps. Nearby uses three different signals to determine when two devices are close enough to connect—Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and audio. The Wi-Fi component doesn’t actually connect two devices directly over Wi-Fi, but itndoes compare the list of Wi-Fi access points each device can see. If the list is close or both devices are on the same access point, that’s a good sign they’re very close to each other in the real world.
To take Nearby for a spin on your phone, you’ll want to grab a few apps that show off the technology. Here are some of the coolest.
Trello is a project manager and to-do tracker that’s organized into “boards.” You can create a board for anything you want, and in the overflow menu is an option to share a board via Nearby. You can also scan for other boards that are being shared over Nearby from the main screen in Trello.
Pocket Casts is one of the most popular podcast players on the Play Store, and it’s always been fast to adopt new technology. In the Explore section of Pocket Casts, there’s a tab for Nearby. This will let you share your podcast subscription list with people around you while they share with you. It’s a cool way to swap subscriptions with friends who also use Pocket Casts.
Thought uses the Nearby messaging API to create conversations in your local area. You can create a profile or just chat anonymously with anyone else running Thought in your immediate vicinity.
Radon is a super-simple sharing app based on Nearby. Simply find a link you want to share and select Radon from the system sharing menu. The person you’re sharing the link with needs to have Radon running, but the app quickly spots the device using Nearby. The link is pushed over and you’re done. No logins or typing necessary. We’ve covered Radon in more detail here.
This is just scratching the surface of what’s possible with Nearby. It’s very cool, but you don’t see enough apps that support it. Hopefully devs pick up the pace and start building more proximity-based features with Nearby soon.