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Google is reportedly working on a feature that would allow Android devices to make their presence known and detect when they are in the proximity of other “people, places, and things”.

Discovered by the folks at Android Police, the feature will reportedly be called Nearby and be part of a future Play Services update, and therefore available to all users without requiring an OS update.

Nearby will be part of the Location settings on Android devices, just like Google Location Reporting. Here’s the text that will greet users when turning the feature on:

[quote qtext=”Nearby lets you connect, share, and do more with people, places, and things near you. When Nearby is turned on for your account, Google can periodically turn on the mic, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and similar features on all your current and future devices. Google+ and other Google services need this access to help you connect, share, and more. When you turn on Nearby, you’re also turning on Location History for your account and Location Reporting for this device. Google needs these services to periodically store your location data for use by Nearby, other Google services, and more.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

When turned on, Nearby will periodically switch on your mic, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and presumably GPS and other sensors, in order to infer if other devices are nearby. Presumably, users will have control over what devices get to see their presence, and the feature can be turned off completely.

While this feature looks similar to location tracking services like Foursquare and Google’s defunct Latitude, it’s more than that, as it’s completely automatic and it runs in the background. Moreover, being part of Play Services means that other apps could tap into Nearby data for various purposes.

Nearby could be a preparation for the Internet of Things era – your device could automatically detect the presence of not only smartphones and computers, but also of thermostats, smartwatches, smart home systems, cars, and so on. All without con

It’s not clear from Android Police’s report when will Nearby roll out, but with Google I/O 2014 just around the corner, it’s possible we’ll see a substantial Play Services update announced on stage, with Nearby as a tent-pole feature.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • abazigal

    My first knee-jerk reaction tells me this is Google’s answer to iBeacon. They don’t have a hardware presence, so they are using their consumers’ hardware as hotspots.

    My only question is – how feasible will this be considering the wide array of hardware Android is found on?

    • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

      This is closer in similarity to the PS Vita’s Near app that existed before iBeacon.

  • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

    Sounds like the PS Vita’s Near app.

  • Max

    This isn’t going to help Google Play Services’ reputation as a battery killer. Also… turning the mic on?!

    • AnonGuy

      I agree. I also think there are a lot of gaps in Android that they should be tackling, but are simply ignoring. iOS 8 with its “fixed” cloud integration is looking exceptional right now given where Google has been focusing on Android the past year or more. Which is to say very little they’ve done has really been to make the UX exceptional. The focus is on something completely different, which is not good for the consumer.

  • John Grabb

    I pray we can keep it turned off but with Google wanting to know AND control everything about you, I doubt it.

  • zult

    more feature more batterry drain… please android dont make it as super multi gigantic features n feauteres while this is only mobile devices. mobile (phone,sms,music player,browsing,game) thats more than enough to enjoy…..(hey people) get a real life, interact with our friend family n neighborhood not only staring at your display device!!!!

  • TheScienceEnthusiast1130


  • DJ Sabo

    I hope the lead lined phone case I’ll be using doesn’t make my pants sag too much

  • AJ Aquino

    Useless piece of feature. It’s just going to drain the battery more.

  • Stephan Hall

    Google is getting to intrusive. It’s beginning to look like they are finding ways that benefit them at the expense of the consumer. It’s fine if they want to offer these apps …as long as we can turn them off! It’s not your business where I am Google!

  • Bruno Rosa // TaRuGo

    no battery.

  • Nearly every content thus far is…. You’re idiots. Boohoo my battery boohoo! Turn it off.

  • Azeem

    So much negativity against Google here.. They are trying their best people!