iBeacon for Android: Radius App Helps You Discover and Test Beacons

Radius App Lets Android Devices Discover Beacons
Radius App Lets Android Devices Discover Beacons

With its support for Bluetooth LE and its iBeacon API in iOS7, all eyes were on Apple and its so-called NFC-killer.

But Radius Networks is making sure that Android isn’t far behind, recently launching a Locate app that’s now available on Google Play.

The app is a great supplement to a series of toolkits and APIs that Radius has launched to help Android developers take advantage of Bluetooth LE.

Android Won’t Be Left Behind

Bluetooth LE is a low-energy framework that lets your phone or a device become a ‘beacon’ – transmitting small packets of data to help do a precise calculate of proximity. Walk in a store and a beacon will wake up your phone and welcome you in the door. Stand in the cereal aisle and your phone can send you a coupon for Corn Flakes.

David Young, Chief Engineer at Radius says that: “The release of iOS 7 makes it possible to develop some pretty cool proximity-aware apps for iPhone and iPad devices. Along with our recently released iBeacon Development Kits and our Android iBeacon SDK, we are now making available the iBeacon Locate app as an easy to use tool for discovering, monitoring and testing iBeacons.”

Radius App Lets You Discover Beacons That Aren’t Your Own
Yesterday, David dove in with some code testing of his own to validate a core assumption: that there’s a big difference in how Android and iOS let you ‘discover’ beacons.

What was clear from his testing was that Android makes it easy to discover beacons that aren’t your own – while Apple seems to have locked off that ability almost entirely.

What’s unclear (to me at least, but I’m not a coder) was whether ALL beacons can be detected, regardless of what security/privacy model they’re using.

Get Calibrating!
But the main reason you’ll want to grab the latest app from Radius is to begin playing with beacons on an Android device.

Yesterday, we set up a virtual beacon using the handy instructions from Radius and we were happily wandering into walls testing them out. We used HiBeacons on GitHub to test the virtual beacons with an iOS device and had it up and running in less than 10 minutes.

Radius is setting out to prove that Android isn’t the laggard when it comes to Bluetooth LE and beacons. And while the support for Bluetooth LE in Android devices themselves is still a bit spotty, one of the big benefits of Bluetooth LE (over, say, NFC) is that we now have a proximity technology that works across platforms.

2 Responses to “iBeacon for Android: Radius App Helps You Discover and Test Beacons”

  1. My worry with Android is that it is never really going to match the experience on iOS. The only way that it can do so on Kit-Kat and Jellybean is to have the bluetooth radio continuously on and preventing the device going into a full sleep mode. This obviously has catastrophic effects on battery life and Developers should really think carefully about the cost/benefit of adding beacon support to an Android app.

    The improvements in Android-L are of course welcome, but it will be several years for this release to propagate to a point where user numbers surpass the legacy versions.

  2. Nick

    Your comment “My worry with Android is that it is never really going to match the experience on iOS. ” is totally incorrect. Yes BLE is a bit behind on Android at the moment. But from what I see Apple is moving much slower in innovations on iOS then Android across the board. As a mobile developer I have both on in each pocket everyday where ever I go. An iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy note 3 and developer for both. From my experience Android has so far moved a lot quicker with innovations that iOS.


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