Note: Google no longer actively develops Physical Web technology, the basis for Eddystone URL. Most of the functionality is available as part of Google’s Nearby stack.
You already know that Estimote Beacons broadcast short identifiers over Bluetooth and phones in the range can read them. If there's an app installed on the phone and it knows what do in the range of a specific beacon, it will prompt an action. Eddystone-URL works a bit differently: beacons broadcast a short URL using the Eddystone URL packet instead, and the URL is displayed in the Nearby section of Android phones. This technology is called Physical Web, and it's developed by Google. Yes, this means Eddystone URL technology is only compatible in Android phones. If you’d like to learn how to work with it, read on!
Below, you will learn:
- how does it work
- what you need to get started
- how to set it up
- what your URL should look like.
How does it work?
Estimote Beacon broadcasts an Eddystone-URL packet with a link or app you've set up. Android phones in range "hear” the packet and the Nearby section detects and displays the link. Your users can click the link, and it’ll open right up in their web browser.
Alternatively, you can trigger an app intent, to launch an app that is already installed and perform a specific action. If the app isn't installed, the user is taken to the Play Store where the app can be installed; the user can then continue to the feature specified.
The awesome part is, neither experience requires that an app is installed on the user's device!
Another good thing about Eddystone-URL and Physical Web is that it won't bombard the user with a notification every time they're in range of a beacon. You don't want to spam users and make them disable Bluetooth or Physical Web. Instead, it provides subtle suggestions in the form of low-priority notifications that don't buzz the phone.
What you need to get started
- Proximity Beacons or Stickers
- Android mobile device with Bluetooth Low Energy support.
- Enable Eddystone-URL packet on the Estimote Beacon
- Open the Estimote app and log in
- Go to "Configurations"
- Connect to the beacon by tapping on it in the Radar or List view.
- Scroll down the list of a beacon's details to enable the packet of your choice
You can also do it via Estimote Cloud. Pick a beacon, click "Edit Settings", and go to the preferred packet on the sidebar to the left to enable it. Connect to the beacon in the app to apply the change.
- Broadcast your own link
Now you can set up your own link. You can do it in the Estimote app the same way you've enabled the packet. Tap on the packet, type the URL you want to broadcast, and you are good to go! You can do it via the Estimote Cloud and in that case, make sure you apply the change by connecting to your beacon with Estimote app afterwards. Your link should meet several requirements to be saved and, later, displayed. More on that below.
URL: what should the link look like?
With Physical Web, the format of the URL matters. Make sure you link is:
Not too long
Eddystone protocol provides 17 bytes for the URL packet. You might need a URL shortener.
URLs must be public. If the page is not accessible from the Internet (e.g. it requires authentication or is only accessible from an internal network), it will not appear in the list of results.
All URLs must resolve to an HTTPS URL. Google requires all Physical Web pages be served over HTTPS due to security considerations. You may use a URL shortener that generates HTTP URLs as long as the shortened URL resolves to an HTTPS URL.
Finally, you can use Physical Web URL Validator to verify your link.
Make sure you are enabling Physical Web on your Android
To enable Nearby notifications on your Android:
- Open your device's Settings app. Tap Google Nearby Settings.
- Tap the type of notifications that you want to control. Turn the Physical Web notifications type on.
- make sure you have Bluetooth on and Location enabled
- If you’re trying to send to Chrome browser as well as the Nearby section (not required), grant Location Permission for Chrome in the app’s settings.
If you do not receive notifications in Chrome and want to, open Chrome and go to chrome://flags/ address. Tap Physical Web and choose Enable.
Remember that Google’s Physical Web implementation only supports HTTPS addresses. HTTP URL will not be displayed.
To learn more about working with Eddystone URL, Nearby Notifications, and more, check out the following resources and articles: