Important: This web page is provided for historical purposes.
On 25 October 2018, Google announced they are discontinuing Nearby Notifications on Android. This mechanism should no longer be used.
There has been speculation that the Physical Web, as championed by Google, is dead.
Here’s what we know:
- In October 2017, Google removed Eddystone URL from Chrome on iOS and Android. Eddystone URL in Chrome on iOS wasn’t being used much and Eddystone detection had been moved to (and is still in the) the Android OS.
- In November 2017, Google Nearby Beacon Functionality Was Severely Cut by Google. This is different to Eddystone-URL and relies on Eddystone-UID beacons being registered at Google. The result was that the Beacon Tools app only works with Eddsytone GATT beacons (not iBeacons).
- There has been no activity in the Physical Web GitHub account for about a year. Google is no longer working on improving Eddystone. This is unfortunate because Bluetooth 5 presents lots of new opportunities that require evolution of the Eddystone standard.
- In 2017, Scott Jenson, the person who brought the Physical Web to Google and became the Product Manager of the Physical Web team, moved to the Chrome UX team and since more recently moved to the Android UX team.
- Very recently, Scott said “If there was still a Physical Web team, it would be fun to create these more semantic layers on top of the URL.” So, we now know there’s no Physical Web team and there probably hasn’t been since Scott moved teams.
- The Physical Web Twitter account says “This account is no longer active”.
- Despite Google moving away from active development of the Physical Web, they are still fixing problems. There was issue with the Physical Web proxy that was recently fixed where “issue triggered in the presence of an invalid URL beacon (ex: a non-HTTPS page) in the proximity of other valid beacons.”. This is reason why some scenarios might not have previously worked (and will now work).
In summary, while new development on Physical Web is dead, the mechanism still works and Google is still applying fixes. Google has removed some functionality that was rarely used and has disbanded the Physical Web team. However, Google is still maintaining the Physical Web proxy and Eddystone notifications still work on Android.
Meanwhile, a group of people led by Agustin Musi from Switzerland is contemplating creating PhysicalWeb2. There’s a Slack channel you can join or you can email them at email@example.com. There’s also a new site at phwa.io.
Read about using beacons for marketing.