You already know that Estimote Beacons broadcast short identifiers over Bluetooth, and phones in their range can read them. If there's an app installed on the phone and it knows what to do when in 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 a URL is displayed in the form of a silent notification on an Android device. This technology is called Physical Web, and it was created by Google. Yes, this means Eddystone URL technology is only compatible with Android devices and it's not available for iOS.
Keep in mind that Google no longer actively develops Physical Web technology, the basis for Eddystone URL. Eddystone-URL is still available on all our beacons but it looks like Nearby Notifications might be a better choice for app-less notifications.
What you need to get started with Eddystone-URL
- any Estimote beacons
- Android mobile device
Once you have both, follow the steps below to set up your beacons:
- 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 the 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 afterward. 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
The 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 the Physical Web URL Validator to verify your link.
I set up the beacons but I'm not receiving notifications, what's wrong?
Make sure you follow the steps below:
- 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, open the browser 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: