Google has long been known for introducing developers to new tools to help build cool new apps, and most of the time these APIs have clear and straightforward use cases. In the case of the Nearby API however – which is split into Nearby Messages and Nearby Connections – few third-party developers, or even Google themselves, have come up with a useful example of what Nearby can be used for. Now, some more popular and useful apps have been showing off what Nearby can be used for, and in version 2.0 of App Links, Android users can now share links to apps and games in the Play Store easier than ever.
App Links has been around for some time, and basically allows users to send other users a link to any of the apps and games installed on their device. Say, for instance, you have an obscure app that's really useful but hard to find in the Play Store (because everything is hard to find in the Play Store) you can use App Links to send it as a message. Now, App Links has been updated – to version 2.0 – with support for Nearby, which means that there's no need for users of the app to exchange any information at all. The only requirements are that the users all have the App Links app installed and are connected to the Internet (there is no need to be on the same WiFi network, however) and then they can share links to their heart's content without needing an email address, phone number or anything of the sort.
Nearby uses a combination of WiFi, Bluetooth and near-ultrasonic waves (similar to the way a Chromecast works with new devices not on the same network) to connect devices together. This is a pretty neat and simple way of showing off what Nearby is capable of, and it adds value to App Links as well. This is an app that can be used when meeting with work colleagues to share a new app you'll all be using or friends quickly sharing a new game or app, it could even be used by Game of Thrones watchers to share their findings on the Westeros map, too.