Nearby SDK: Easily Enable Any Native iOS or Android App to Scan for Physical Web Beacons

When Physical Web functions are built into apps, consumer utility is enhanced, satisfaction is increased, and content owners get more relevant metrics from a wider, more engaged audience.

Our Physical Web Software Development Kit (SDK) makes it easy to enable any native iOS or Android app with the power of the Physical Web and works with any brand of Eddystone-URL formatted beacons.

Using the same technologies that power the Internet – browsers, URLs and websites – the Physical Web’s URL-based delivery means that existing web content can easily be repurposed for use in app-based proximity campaigns.

With this integration, app owners/administrators can deliver content in ways that were previously unavailable, unreliable, or only possible with labor intensive iBeacon deployments or imprecise geofencing location services.

The iOS and Android versions of the Nearby SDK are available to all PHY.net subscribers. 

Curated Physical Web Content

App users get the benefit of curated content, specifically filtered to a user’s preferences. This isn’t anything new on the app front, but what is new… even if someone does not have the app, they can still see content being broadcast by those nearby beacons with a conventional Physical Web browser. Now that Google’s Chrome browser supports the Physical Web on iOS and Android, a huge window of opportunity opens. Since Google made the Android announcement in mid-March 2016, 800+ million Android users have already begun to experience the Physical Web.

The benefit to those millions of viewers and marketers alike is that non-app users can become aware of app-only incentives, thereby funneling more users to download and use the brand’s app. When patrons become app users, willing to share their location via that app, marketers benefit from detailed analytics about location, frequency, etc.

Extensibility

PHY.net’s phyIQ™ feature can be customized to incorporate a virtually unlimited number of variables – user preferences, user location, security, content filters, multiple custom tags, etc. – each one helping deliver relevant information to a specific user at the perfect time. With PHY.net, app owners can curate Physical Web content on demand, on a schedule, or with information automatically driven by outside influences including inventory availability, traffic patterns, or even the weather.

Custom Branded Browser

App development is not cheap. For that reason, we have included a fully functioning Physical Web browser in the Nearby SDK. This empowers developers to customize the app with their own brand, eliminating much of the work involved in creating a custom app and speeding the time to market.

Prioritized Content

App owners can limit Physical Web access to just those beacons they control. As Physical Web deployments become more mainstream, users will appreciate these filtered/focused experiences. If a shopper in a retail store is sharing their personal LinkedIn profile from a personal Physical Web beacon, then the retailer can make sure store content moves to the top of the display, or that third-party content is not displayed at all.

Enhanced Security

One caution often raised about the Physical Web is the possibility of a bad person placing a beacon with a malicious website in an area where it can be accessed by unsuspecting consumers. While this same issue exists on the Web in general, it is something that can be effectively managed when Physical Web content is accessed through an app by blocking unapproved content. Enterprise and large retail app owners will appreciate the compliance controls of enhanced security and protection from potentially malicious content.

Multifunction Beacons

One beacon can provide multiple versions of content to multiple audiences. Imagine a single beacon in a big box retailer like The Home Depot®

  • Available on the Physical WebPublic Content: For those “just browsing” shoppers who enter without an app (using a conventional Physical Web browser), a sign at the door or Physical Web sticker on an individual product can alert them that more information is available on the Physical Web. Those who choose to learn more can get fast access to special deals and product information, but are also gently incentivized to download the store’s official app for even better deals and more exclusive information.
  • Private Content: For retail shoppers with the store’s official app already installed, shoppers engage with content (tapping to see details) and those interactions help tailor valuable concierge-like suggestions of future benefits.
  • Alternate Content: Home Depot has the power to “lease” those same beacons to third-party vendors, allowing approved vendors to control alternate content without needing additional beacon deployments in that store. For instance, without changing what is seen by the official Home Depot app users or those using a general web browser, Scotts® Miracle-Gro® could be given permission to control alternate content to be displayed when visitors use the Scotts lawn care app.

Using the PHY.net platform, there is no limit on this multifunction capability. Beacon owners can give access to an unlimited number of apps (and retain audit control over associated content).

  • Performance venues can lease access to multiple performer apps at different events (opening act and headliners), as well as sponsor apps (beer sponsor, food sponsor, etc.), creating multiple new revenue streams for each event.
  • In addition to on-campus event sponsorships, college campuses can give access to different departments and on-campus organizations, allowing existing beacon installations to provide alternate content for a wide range of uses. Now, a single beacon can provide wayfinding directions, recruiting tour info, events scheduling, security, game day traffic guidance, etc.
  • Convention and trade show organizers can share overall event information, while allowing exhibitors to use the same beacon network.
  • Tourism boards and their members can benefit from a consolidated network of beacons too. While out-of-town visitors may be there to experience a particular event, others may want to know more about the history of the town hosting the event. While some may love the nightlife, others may be more interested in family friendly entertainment. Tourists may want to soak it all in while taking the scenic route around town, while business travelers may be more about efficiencies of the local public transportation.
  • For automobiles, a single beacon can have retail, government, and personal uses. That single beacon in a car can broadcast the manual that can be seen in the manufacturer’s app. The service calendar and recall notices can be seen in the dealer app. The registration and insurance can be securely transmitted to law enforcement for users who opt-in and “for sale” information to the world at large when the time comes to sell.

This dramatic shift in the Physical Web and the concept of proximity marketing lowers the barriers to entry for small and large organizations alike, making it faster and easier for people to find information about the places and things around them.

Familiar User Interface

The process of enabling an app with Physical Web functionality is simplified because the familiar “search display” of a browser is built into the Nearby SDK. By adding a Physical Web tab or button, the app can allow its users to instantly scan nearby content, which is presented as a list of web sites from which to choose.

This approach also allows richer content options. While most platforms supporting the iBeacon protocol default to the lowest common denominator of push messages, the ability to present content as a simple link to a website creates the greatest possible flexibility in content options.

Engagement

Push messages are a primary draw for marketers to iBeacon tech. Reaching out at just the right time when information or a “deal” is available. In contrast, the Physical Web’s inherent nature is one of discovery, rather than notifications. Users are driven by curiosity, rather than prodding. Although we’re big proponents of the Physical Web, we see the value in both approaches.