Your phone can remind you to call your mother to wish her a happy birthday when you get to the office. But it can’t remind you to wish her a happy birthday when you see her next. But it might soon be able to.
A new Android feature, called “Nearby,” would allow more interactions between people, places, and things, according to Android Police, citing a source. The feature could be released in an upcoming Google Play service update.
Here’s how the Nearby onboarding screen describes it:
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.
So Nearby would know when two devices are near each other and would react accordingly. And, Android Police notes, users would be able to choose what they share, and, of course, whether they want to share at all.
Google recently bought (and shut down) Bump, an app that allowed devices to share information by bumping them together. And in February, Google bought SlickLogin, which lets your phone “listen” to an inaudible sound, instead of using a password.
So using those technologies, a phone could know it’s next to another device because they’re pinging inaudible noises back and forth to each other or are near each other.
Google would basically be opening up the mic and recording audio from your device, which raises some privacy concerns. Facebook recently released a new feature that users must turn on, which does something similar, and users are creeped out.
Android Police reports that the information wouldn’t be known to the devices, helping to alleviate some privacy concerns. “To protect privacy, the information gathered from these various sources on your device would likely travel to Google, and be matched with others’ information there, with only the acknowledgment of proximity being revealed to other devices,” according to Android Police.
Nearby will reportedly be announced sometime soon, possibly at Google’s I/O conference in a few weeks.
(Via Android Police)