Google beacons

It’s not yet commonplace, but not exactly a brand new concept, to have alerts about coupons pop up on your phone as you walk into a store, or down a particular aisle. But you typically need to have location services turned on, opt in to receive alerts, and – most importantly – have a specific app installed.

So who’s going to notify you about the apps you need to have, in order to get the coupons you might want?

Google thinks it has a solution. And depending on how you feel about alerts popping up on your phone, you may or may not agree.

Google has announced the introduction of a new Android feature called Nearby. Instead of notifying you about coupons, it will notify you about apps that can give you coupons – if you download them.

If you drop by a CVS, for example, you may never know that there’s a digital coupon available for the very product you’re eyeing, unless you have the CVS app installed. And if you don’t? Then Google’s Nearby will suggest that you download it.

“The right app at the right moment lets you get more done,” Nearby’s product manager wrote in a Google blog post on Thursday. “But getting the right apps at the right time can be tough if you don’t already know about them.”


So Nearby will let you know. If you have an Android phone, “just turn on Bluetooth and Location, and we’ll show you a notification if a nearby app or website is available,” Google explains. “Once you’ve opted-in, tapping on a notification takes you straight into the intended experience. If you’re not interested, just swipe it away to give us a clear signal.”

All of this is made possible by beacons – low-powered transmitters installed throughout a store, that can communicate with your phone when you approach. Beacons can alert you to available coupons or special deals based on what precise part of the store you’re in. CVS has them, Rite Aid and Target are among the retailers testing them, and department stores like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor were among the first to deploy them.

It’s a safe bet that more retailers will be jumping aboard the beacon bandwagon. A recent study by Juniper Research predicted that nearly 1.6 billion coupons will be delivered via beacon technology in 2020.

But communication is a two-way street. In order for beacons to communicate with your phone, you need to have the applicable app installed. And do you really want to clutter your phone with every app from every store you visit, just in case they have beacons and coupons for you? So Nearby will let you know what apps are worth installing, if it’s coupons you’re after.

Of course, there’s more to beacons – and Nearby – than just coupons and deals. If you’re in a museum, Nearby can prompt you to download the museum’s app, to listen to an audio tour that will keep track of where you are as you move through the building. If you’re bored at the airport, Nearby may suggest that you download the nearest airline’s app to access free in-flight entertainment while you wait to board.

When it comes to shopping, though, as Nearby makes suggestions, you’ll just have to decide how much access to your phone, your location and your shopping habits you’ll want businesses to have. Beacons may help you to save money, but considering what you may have to give up – even coupons and deals aren’t quite free.

Image source: Google


  1. Since I just got rid of 80 percent of my own belongings, something like this designed to get me to spent more money and time in a store, isn’t for someone like me.

    But another well-written piece, Bill. Hope all is well on your end and your having a good Monday.

    Cheers and boogie boogie 🙂

    • You know how it is, Ivy – the more you buy, the more you save – or is it the other way around, the more you save, the more stuff you buy?! Congrats on the personal purging and happy Tuesday!

      • Thanks, Bill.

        We even donated stockpile items that we weren’t using. Now all the freebies that we kept, fit in the bathroom. It’s heaven. Heaven I say, heaven.

        Just caught up on the Wally World one you did with no more price matching at some stores. I’m curious how that will pan out for them.

        Thanks for all your hard work. You’re good at writing these. Now it’s back to the couch for me, as I’m pooped and on a well-earned, rest day.

        Cheers and boogie boogie 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy