Last year we received information that Google was working on an initiative called "Nearby" that would enable Android devices to communicate with people, places, and devices that were in close proximity. In the time since, things have mostly been silent. We've seen similar functionality pop up in the likes of Chromecast guest mode and trusted devices, but not the full shebang.
Now, Google is taking the feature public. In a post over on its developers blog, the company details ways in which Nearby will make sharing information with someone nearby easier than exchanging account information or scanning QR codes.
Nearby uses a combination of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and inaudible sound utilizing your speaker and microphone to determine proximity to another device. Nearby functions through a proximity API, named Nearby Messages, that developers can use to integrate the functionality with their apps.
Some early partners have already shown off what their software can do. Pocket Casts lets friends compare podcasts with one another. EDjing helps DJs publish tracklists to the people around them—who can then vote on the songs they like. Trello users can share boards with a group just by flipping a toggle.
The Nearby Messages API will be available across Android devices running Gingerbread or higher, as well as iOS, as part of Google Play services 7.8. The functionality doesn't even require a Google account.
App creators, keep your eyes glued on the Google Developers site for complete documentation once the API arrives.