Reported Android feature 'Nearby' to allow for phone to phone data exchange
June 9, 2014 by Bob Yirka
Imagine you're sitting in a bar talking with someone you find attractive; the two of you decide to exchange information so you can keep in contact later. But, instead of typing one another's text or email address into your phones, you simply point your phone at theirs, as they point theirs at yours, and you both click an onscreen cue, and just like that, a virtual card of sorts is exchanged. Easy Peasy. This scenario may soon become reality as there are various news agencies reporting that Google is going to add a feature to Android called "Nearby." It's a service that allows Android devices that are in close physical proximately, to exchange data. The company is expected to announce the new service as early as later this month at its I/O conference.
Of course, there is a reason that phone's aren't able to reach out and touch others nearby—security. If your phone allows other phones to talk directly to it, how are you supposed to keep unwanted interlopers out? Imagine every guy at a bar aiming his phone at a very attractive woman, grabbing her info without her granting permission, or perhaps just as bad, her having to deny request after request all night long. Google apparently believes it has a solution to such issues, but since the company has not yet announced the service, it hasn't said yet how that might work.
If the rumors are true, Nearby could open up all sorts of possibilities. Data exchange when at a store, perhaps, or virtual business cards that can be exchanged as easily as a handshake, or who knows, perhaps a means of initiating a hookup with someone in a nearby car, or alerting a user to the presence of another person in a crowded room. The possibilities seem limited only by the imagination.
Google will reportedly make it all happen by having phones automatically engage WiFi, Bluetooth and a microphone, to "sniff" the air around the device on a regular basis (or perhaps when told to do so by the devices owner). Security would be provided by having devices on both ends actually communicate via a Google server. Presumably, the service would be highly customizable as well, allowing certain people to instigate communication while blocking others automatically. At any rate, it seems we will all have to wait a couple of weeks to find out for sure—Google I/O is scheduled for June 25-26.