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Eddystone- Google's weapon in Beacon Industry

Updated on November 19, 2015

What is Eddystone?

Eddystone is a Google's alternative to iBeacon. It's a new method of broadcasting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) data from beacons. It encircles what iBeacons can do plus adds even more context.

Eddystone, likely inspired by the lighthouse off the British coast, is Google's grand entry into the beacon market. As per Google, they have serious discussion with numerous beacons providers, regarding the current limitation of the technology.

Eddystone is Open

Specifications of Eddystone are published openly on the web and have been driven by the community; anyone can access it and contribute to it.

Eddystone is for both iOS and Android

With the market demands, Eddystone should support Android, along with iOS, which it is doing. It is meant to be the most robust beacon. So far iBeacons has been making his marks for iOS and now we have something, which will support Android too. You can even also use the Nearby API to develop solutions based on the other formats. Its like one proximity service for any device and for iBeacon profile and Eddystone format.

Its not just flexible, it also opens up the technology to a wider section of use cases. Eddystone includes new APIs to make beacons more powerful. Nearby APIs makes it easy for an app to find and communicate with beacons to get specific information and context.

Best part of it, Proximity is that it's impossible to put in the latitude and longitude coordinates, indoor floor level, and Place ID, which feed into the Google Maps. Which eventually means that Google is now able to know and can direct you to a specific product showcased with in a specific area of the retail shop in your Google Map.

Packets

Beacons supporting Eddystone can broadcast three different advertising packages called frames types:

  • Eddystone-UID - A beacon's unique ID number. This frame type triggers push notifications or app actions, just like Proximity UUID, that you know from iBeacon.
  1. Fundamentally identical to iBeacon
  2. Not 100%, but for most of the application it is
  3. All beacons that broadcast Eddystone-UID are registered in Google's database
  • Eddystone-URL - A URL that can be broadcasted by a beacon or other object. Once a user's device receives suck signals, it displays URLs broadcasted by nearby emitters, ranked by proximity.
  1. Indicates smartphone to open a URL
  2. Doesn't require and app to be already installed on user's smartphone.
  3. It needs Eddystone functionality exists on the user's smartphone.
  4. A great engine to encourage users to install apps that are actually relevant to the location.
  • Eddystone-TLM (Telemetry) - It's the data obtained by the sensors. This frame type enables you to trigger different kinds of actions, depending on different situations, such as temperature, loudness, humidity or pollution.
  1. Sends Sensor data
  2. Currently supports temperature and accelerometer.

Eddystone vs. iBeacons

  • While iBeacon officially supports iOS devices only, Eddystone support both iOS and Android officially.
  • The advertising packet is naturally different from that of iBeacon. Eddystone is designed to support multiple data packet types, starting with two: Eddystone-UID and Eddystone-URL.
  • There's a third type of packet Eddystone-TLM, this packet is broadcast alongside the Eddystone-UID or Eddystone-URL packets and contains beacon's health status, like battery life. This is indented for fleet management.
  • Eddystone support in the Estimote iOS and Android SDKs is based on a single method at this moment. Eddystone discovery, which is quite similar to iBeacon's ranging. It provides proximity estimates and works only when the app is active.

iBeacon
Eddystone
iOS and Android compatible but natively only for iOS
Android and iOS compatible. It may be a part of native Android with Android M release, this would completely transform expectation for IoT, since, every smartphone would have native support for receiving notifications, even if there is no app installed via Eddystone URL protocol
Simple and Easy to implement
Flexible and opens new possibilities but at the same time requires more complicated coding to integrate as it sends more types if data than the Beacon.
Not an Open-source, specifications are in Apple's side.
Open source, specifications are published openly on Github.

Eddystone at Google beacon platform

Google beacon platform consist of following components:

  • Beacon devices
  • Eddystone format
  • Proximity beacon API

What's next?

Beacons are an important way to deliver better experience for users of your apps, specially on the retail side, whether you choose Eddystone with your own product and services, or as a part of a broader Google Solution like Places API or Nearby API.

With Eddystone and the new Google APIs, new doors of innovation have been opened. Since its an open platform, it makes the developers to jump in an use it in any way to make it useful for the world. Google is enhancing the way beacons works and they are in a right direction towards the flexible and a cross- platform solution. Soon there will be a day, when you approach a soda machine, which offers you a coupon for your next arrival, without having first installed the Soda app in your smartphone.

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