Evalutating Eddystone

eddystone-logo-2I’ve finally had time to check out Eddystone-URL, that is covered by the Physical Web concept, in real life.

A few impressions and thoughts:

Pros

  • You don’t need your own app for detecting and using Physical Web. This is no doubt the key argument, and might therefore overshadow both iBeacon and Eddystone-UID for many use cases, despite the fact that it’s not all good and not altogether true either. At least not yet.
  • Once you’ve set up Physical Web, you don’t have to do anything more, except clicking on notifications and links.
  • Physical Web works well with CliqTags, being fundamentally a mobile-optimized CMS.
  • There’s a simple app called (fittingly) Physical Web that lets you evaluate Physical Web. Clearly, this is a prototype/interim app. The real deal is the support for Physical Web in Chrome.
  • There are already many beacon suppliers that support Eddystone.
  • Long term it’s likely only iBeacon and Eddystone will remain, simplifying the specification and buying process.

Cons

  • Going from zero to having Physical Web working via Chrome in iOS and Android requires a number of steps that are out of the ordinary.
  • No one (statistically speaking) has Chrome installed on iOS today.
  • Chrome will not detect anything unless you activate Physical Web (a privacy setting). In iOS you also need to activate the notification widget.
  • If you want to gamify (e.g. treasure hunts), control app behavior, and/or the app is local, either iBeacon or Eddystone-UID and use of different proximity levels are better choices. The whole point of Eddystone-URL is to access sites.
  • Chrome for Android seems to ignore sites that don’t use SSL (https). Others have reported that too.
  • I didn’t get Chrome for Android to detect anything anyway. The Physical Web app worked though, as well as Chrome for iOS.
  • Once activated, any and all Physical Web beacons will trigger a notification, which could be annoying in the long run.
  • It’s uncertain how close to a beacon you need to be for Chrome to trigger, and different scenarios require different proximities. Can it be controlled?
  • Most beacons either transmit iBeacon, Eddystone-UID or Eddystone-URL. Only a few can be set up to transmit more than one of them. With USB beacons this would not be a problem. Not that this is a big issue once you’ve selected a beacon strategy, and you stick to it.
  • The link in the beacon needs to go through a link replacement/shortening service anyway, as the link must be very short, as well as to avoid having to reconfigure the beacons when the site URL changes.