Google’s Nearby gives you a heads up about location-specific apps

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The next time you walk into a CVS with an Android phone, you may be prompted to install the CVS Pharmacy app.

It may sound like your smartphone just got injected with location-specific ads, but Google is presenting it as a way to get notified of location-centric apps that could prove useful. It’s called Nearby, and it uses your Bluetooth and Location to serve you notifications about apps that could be helpful in relation to where you are.

For example if you’re in a CVS, you could get a notification that asks if you want to “print photos directly from your phone” via the CVS Pharmacy app. Other examples Google provides are: “explore historical landmarks at the University of Notre Dame,” access the audio tour when you’re at The Broad museum in L.A. via an app, skip the customs line with Mobile Passport, and download the United Airlines app to get access to free in-flight entertainment.

Nearby makes it easy to discover apps without ever having to visit the Google Play Store.

“The right app at the right moment lets you get more done,” writes Akshay Kannan, product manager for Nearby. “For example, at a store, you may want a barcode scanner to check prices and reviews for an item. Or when you’re at a museum, an audio tour would enhance the experience as you make your way around the exhibits.”

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The Nearby feature even works to help set devices up when you’re near them. Google says select devices, such as Google Cast-enabled devices and Android Wear smartwatches, will let you set them up just by tapping a notification if you’re near them.

For Nearby to work, you need to turn on your Bluetooth and Location. You can always opt out if you’re not interested in receiving these location-based alerts. It seems like for the most part Nearby can be useful, considering many people might not know they could utilize these apps to their advantage. And if you’re not interested in something, just swipe it away or opt out completely. Nearby makes it easy to discover apps without ever having to visit the Google Play Store.

The feature is rolling out to everyone on Android 4.4 KitKat and above via a Google Play Services update.

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