We’re still waiting for Android N, but in the meantime Google has rolled out a new feature to existing versions of the OS, dubbed ‘Nearby’.
The feature, which has begun rolling out to users of Android 4.4 KitKat and above, will alert you to apps that you may be interested in based on your location.
Currently only a few apps support it, alerting you to the CVS Pharmacy photo printing app when you’re in-store or the United Airlines in-flight entertainment app while you wait to board a flight for example.
But all it takes is for other apps to opt in to the service and there could soon be any number of potentially very handy uses for it. Here are five of the best.
1. Discounts at your favorite stores
Everyone loves a bargain and shops could leverage that with Nearby to get more customers and more users for their apps.
Next time you’re out shopping you could get an alert for a store app and grab a discount for using it, saving you money and potentially even getting you to discover a new shop that you’d otherwise have walked straight past.
2. Taxi apps in a new town
Uber and Lyft are great, but they’re not available everywhere. Head to smaller towns and you’ll often have to find local taxi companies. But some of them have apps of their own and Nearby could alert you to them as soon as you arrive, so you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to get around or get home.
3. Translation apps when you land
Similarly, if you land in a foreign country chances are you won’t speak the language and if you forgot to pack a phrasebook or learn some key lingo, Nearby could ensure you’re able to communicate by suggesting a relevant language app.
It could also alert you to tourist and city guides for the location you’re in, so you can live more like a local.
4. Guides to museums and monuments
Many museums have their own apps to help guide you around exhibits and teach you more about what you’re seeing. But the apps aren’t always well advertised, so Nearby could make sure everyone knows about them as soon as they step through the door.
Google has already partnered with The Broad in LA to do exactly that, but someday soon every major museum could offer the same service.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to museums. Any landmark, monument or location that’s detailed in an app could get highlighted by Nearby, so you’ll always know what you’re looking at.
5. Tying in with Tango
Nearby has a lot of potential, but it could go even further with Tango phones like the new Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.
In the futur, Nearby could be used not just to suggest apps based on where you are, but based on the exact thing you’re looking at. For example, if you’re in the wine section of a supermarket it could alert you to Vivino Wine Scanner, which has reviews of most wines.
Right now Nearby is limited, but in the future you could wonder how you ever lived without it.
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