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Is Google Nearby about to bring better location features to Android?

We can usually trust the folks over at AndroidPolice when it comes to rumors about upcoming features for Google’s mobile operating system, and the site has just published details of a new Nearby feature set to appear on Android phones and tablets in the near future.

Nearby is all about using your location in a smarter way. It could recognize when you’re at home and tap into smart devices there, turn your Wi-Fi off at the office or automatically connect to your friend’s phone the next time it comes into range. All of these potential uses are speculation, but the AndroidPolice team is confident that Google Nearby is real and on the way.

“Nearby lets you connect, share, and do more with people, places, and things near you,” says the official blurb seen by AndroidPolice. “When Nearby is turned on for your account, Google can periodically turn on the mic, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and similar features on all your current and future devices. Google+ and other Google services need this access to help you connect, share, and more.”

Of course this can all tap into Google Now too, and the theory is that we could finally see the contact-based reminders (“remind me to tell Bill about the concert when I see him”) that have been rumored to be coming down the pipe for some time. Other possible uses of the software include being able to unlock a Chromebook just by placing your phone near it and getting Google Wallet offers as soon as you walk into a store.

“We’ve received information indicating that Nearby will come with an upcoming Google Play Services update,” writes AndroidPolice’s Liam Spradlin. “While we still caution readers that anything related to a leak can change, we are not treating this as a rumor, as our information is reliable and complete enough to inspire full confidence that this functionality will be revealed (in an official capacity) soon.”

That “soon” could be the end of the month — Google I/O is just around the corner.

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