New hints have emerged about a completely unknown incoming device made by Google, now spotted via the Bluetooth SIG Launch Studio. Dubbed the Google Bluetooth Tag and described in the same way, the device is shown as running Bluetooth 5.0 attached to a multipurpose SoC manufactured by Nordic Semiconductors.
There are a few implications that can be taken from that snippet of new information alone but digging into the chipset itself, listed as Nordic's model number nRF52832 chip, adds some intriguing information of its own. Although, Google won't necessarily utilize every feature of the chip, Nordic lists that designation with an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU stacked with an NFC-A tag for simplified pairing and payment solutions.
That's also listed with digital peripherals and interfaces for use with digital microphones and audio.
What exactly is this thing?
Prior leaked information via certifications has indicated the device was intended to be used with some sort of companion application and that it bears the "G022A" model number. That's not completely unlike to the designations used for Pixel-branded devices, leading to some speculation that the brand will be attached to the device. The number of things that could be is severely limited by the fact that, for now, there's no screen technology attached at all.
That doesn't mean there's nowhere for Google to go here though and the "Google Bluetooth Tag" designation provided in the most recent documentation — as well as the "Bluetooth Tag" description — certainly narrows things further. The most plausible explanations for the new device so far have chiefly centered around a new wearable of some sort or plausibly a listening device.
As per the latest information, both of those seem far less likely. Options that remain still could include peripheral devices such as a keychain or other small accessory meant to be attached to an item that might become lost. Commonly referred to as Bluetooth tags, some current devices including Tile's lineup of devices that help users stop losing their keys or personal belongings.
Another option, due to the NFC chip, may be that this is a tile that can function similarly to Tile's offerings but also links to an app to allow tap-to-pay transactions. Google has dabbled with physical payment services in the past, notably with its Google Wallet service and associated, now defunct card.
Yet another direction the company may go is with the release a tag that can serve as a physical security key. Features have recently been added to Android smartphones that let users log into accounts exactly as might be accomplished with a USB hardware key. The new Bluetooth 5.0 would make sense in that regard too since Google's current Titan-branded Bluetooth key was discovered to suffer from a major vulnerability last month.
At this juncture, the only people who know exactly what Google's Bluetooth Tag really is or does are those developers and designers who have been working on the project. The array of certifications and documents surrounding the gadget seems to suggest it won't be too much longer before that's ready to be officially unveiled to the world either.
Google could ultimately plan to release the device as an enterprise-only offering or may turn out to serve some completely unheard of purpose that only the search giant has managed to dream up yet. So there's no telling if or when the Google Bluetooth Tag will land.