Home automation is definitely going to be one of the hottest markets for technology companies.
Apple has unveiled HomeKit, which integrates with Siri to work with home appliances. Not to be undone, Google will also take the wraps off Nearby, a still-to-be-announced Android feature that automatically links two devices once Google detects that they are near each other.
Nearby is not a rumor, or so Android Police claims. Android Police, which is known for its usually accurate reports on not-yet-released Android features, ranks rumors by their likelihood of becoming factual truths. This time, however, Android Police said it is not ranking Nearby because it is a sure Android feature that is set to be unveiled later this month, most likely at Google's I/O conference. And it even has screenshots to prove its claim.
"We've received information indicating that Nearby will come with an upcoming Google Play Services update," says Android Police. "While we still caution readers that anything related to a leak can change, we are not treating this as a rumor, as our information is reliable and complete enough to inspire full confidence that this functionality will be revealed (in an official capacity) soon."
Nearby, says Android Police, will automatically turn on a device's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or microphone along with Location Reporting and Location History so that other devices running on Android can pick up the signal and connect with the device.
Obviously, Nearby will only heat up the already fiery privacy debate since it will be sending users' recorded audio to Google. For its part, Google has apparently addressed the privacy issue by promising that no recorded audio will be sent to other devices. The information will only go to Google's servers, where it will be matched with other information sent by other devices before linking the two devices together. This still does not address the fact that Google will use Nearby to acquire audio information, though.
Nearby doesn't sound like the most exciting feature yet, but it has a lot of potential in the home automation and Internet of Things markets. In Google's video introducing Android Wear, its platform for wearable devices, Google shows a scene where a woman opens her garage door by commanding her wearable to do it for her. With Nearby, it probably won't be long before we can automatically open our garage doors simply by holding a smartphone and walking up to the garage.
It can also possibly make smart air-conditioning even smarter, with Google's earlier acquisition of Nest Labs, maker of award-winning smart thermostats. Nearby could become part of an update for Nest thermostats that can recognize who is inside the room and automatically change its settings according to each individual's preferences. Grandma might like cooler temperatures, but grandpa prefers to stay warm and cozy. With Nearby on, neither of them would need to fiddle with the controls to get the right temperature.