The place picker gets a new signal from Bluetooth beacons

In Google Play services 7.8, the place picker in the Places API for Android will use signals from beacons in determining the device’s current location.

The Place Picker is a great UI widget for helping your users communicate where they’re located in terms they understand: places, addresses, and locations on a map. With the launch of the Proximity Beacon API as part of Google’s beacon platform, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons provide a new context signal to devices. When a user’s device is near a beacon that has been registered through the Proximity Beacon API, the beacon’s associated PlaceID is combined with other signals available to the device. This strong signal is used to rank the suggestions presented to the user in the place picker.

If you already use the place picker in your app, you’ll get this integration for free! Just so you know, there won’t be any additional permissions required from your users since you’ll already be requesting ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION to run the Place Picker, which includes using BLE technology to listen for beacons. The change will only influence the place inference for users who already have their device’s Bluetooth turned on; it won’t turn on Bluetooth or prompt users with it turned off to turn it on.

If you want to deploy your own beacons, visit the developer documentation for a brief tutorial.

Posted by Jen Harrington, Product Manager, Google Maps APIs