Earlier last summer, there were reports that Google was developing a feature that would let Android handsets alert users to the presence of other users in the vicinity. At that time, the feature was dubbed as "Nearby" and was further described as a feature designed to facilitate interaction between different Android devices located close to each other. Now, reports are surfacing again -- this time suggesting that the feature will not only allow Android-to-Android interaction, but also Android-to-iOs capabilities as well.
As reported by Android Police, the feature is being called "Copresence" (it is possible that the name is not official yet and merely a designation for internal purposes). Copresence is supposedly created to allow Android and iOS devices to communicate with each other in a lot of ways. Much like a cross-platform version of Android Beam, the feature allows users regardless of mobile OS to share and exchange content, whether it be files, photos, messages, or even directions.
It is a neat idea, but begs the question: how do the two devices deal with authenticating with one another? Reportedly, the participating devices would use location information or Bluetooth. Perhaps Google will be utilizing a technology similar to the “whisper” ultra-sonic authentication process used in allowing Chromecast to connect from other networks.
As for the actual transfer of data between the devices, Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi direct may be used. It appears for now that Copresence will only be facilitating information exchange, but knowing Google, it would be much of a surprise if the tech giant finds a way to use Copresence for other purposes other than just swapping photos and driving directions.
For the record, Google has not officially confirmed the existence of Copresence yet. But all the signs are there. The company was recently granted a patent for the feature. Furthermore, there are traces in the code of the Google Play Services Android application package (APK) that suggest the feature does indeed exist.
When the feature finally does get released, it could become the bridge in which relations between Android and iOS could get better. Indeed, transferring files between two devices with different systems today could definitely use some improvement. Copresence could be the key to making that happen in the near future.
One of the most interesting features of Apple's latest iOS 8 update is Continuity, which allows for easier switching between systems. With Copresence, Google could do the same for the Android system. It should be noted that Google had acquired (quietly) Bump, the app developer company, in late 2013. Perhaps Google is using Bump's technology in developing and perfecting Copresence.
As mentioned earlier, Google has not confirmed Copresence's existence yet. Until that time comes, we will just have make do with what we currently have.
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