When the Nearby API started rolling out to Google Play Services in July of last year, it had a lot of potential and promise. It broke the barriers on being on the same network or paired and just did it based on proximity. The few apps that implemented the API only used it in specific screens, had to ask for a permission to activate it, and had to show a notification when Nearby was on and looking for other devices so this resulted in it being really tedious for the end-user resulting in poor adoption. Google is ready to now combine everything into just an API called Nearby, messages, connections and notifications are all under one umbrella. Physical Web in Chrome 49 and Awareness API are both going to join Nearby soon. To meet nearby requirements you’ll have to have bluetooth and location on to receive the nearby notifications.
However, these Nearby Notifications are about more than just HTTP links and can leverage app intents and installs from the Play Store. If you want more details there are more details about this in the Developers documentation page, including step-by-step guides for configuring Eddystone beacons to broadcast these different types of notifications. To push this Google of course has some launch partners, United Airlines will suggest you install its app pre-boarding and let you watch movies and TV shows while you’re flying, The Broad Museum and The University Of Notre Dame give you access to in-app tours while you’re visiting them, CVS lets you order and print your photos quicker, and so on. In addition to the launch partners it’s also using it in its own apps like Google Cast and Android Wear to ease the setup process.
All devices Kitkat and up will receive it via Google Play Services. For developers, you should watch the Google I/O presentation below and get started on the Nearby documentation page to choose the kind of experience you want to work on, maybe something cool for Android TV or Google Cast?