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TODAY - Google Stops Supporting Physical Web on iOS Chrome - and soon on Android... #931

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chiphysler opened this Issue Oct 20, 2017 · 44 comments

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chiphysler commented Oct 20, 2017

Hello,
BIG DISAPPOINTING NEWS -
I just learned today that Google is no longer supporting Physical Web on iOS Chrome. Today had two customers upload newest iOS Chrome on their iPhone and Physical Web is gone. I checked and learned that according to Google Team - Yes Physical Web on iOS Chrome has been removed and that "Physical Web will soon be no longer supported on Android Chrome.... Only on Android Nearby..." Has anyone seen any formal announcement from Google? I am sure we all want to know why.

Try it out... Install the latest iOS Chrome from the Apple Store...

I know this helps Apple and Apple iBeacon deployments but is a huge cost to those of us who supported Physical Web and are in the middle of pilots, responding to RFPs, and having to go back to live customers.

Any comments or discussions on what this does for Eddystone Hardware vendors and VARS? What does this do for you? Google/Scott, please tell me I am wrong.

Regards, Chip Hysler

@bisaicx

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bisaicx commented Oct 23, 2017

Hi,

i have the same problem. When i did the IOS Chrome upgrade to chrome release 62, physical web on chrome dissapeared, and there is no more eddystone notifications on chrome.

What do you think Chip Hysler, is it the official news that google chrome does not support any more physical web? Is there some kind of workaround solution?

Regards,
bisaicx

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chiphysler commented Oct 23, 2017

Hello, I had several customers contact me on Friday about this disappearing. Talked to my beacon supplier and other folks. They too saw the problem too with no warning from Google. According to what I have seen last it was removed from iOS and soon from Android Chrome. So the idea of the Physical Web of being able to go across iOS and Android without a custom app appears to be dead... Nearby works (Android only) So now the only browser that supports Eddystone beacons is Samsung (Android only). So if we need our apps on both platforms with need to develop a custom app.

Eddystone beacons where really designed with Physical Web in mind, without Chrome... iBeacons may be the way to go.

In any case, it would nice to get an official statement from Google... It's bad, with all the excitement built up over the last 2 years in the press, with developers, and hardware manufacturer's and no warning.

Regards

@chiphysler

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chiphysler commented Oct 23, 2017

Hello, I had several customers contact me on Friday about this disappearing. Talked to my beacon supplier and other folks. They saw the problem too with no warning from Google. According to what I have seen last it was removed from iOS and soon from Android Chrome. So the idea of the Physical Web of being able to go across iOS and Android without a custom app appears to be dead... Nearby works (Android only) So now the only browser that supports Eddystone beacons is Samsung (Android only). So if we need our apps on both platforms with need to develop a custom app.

Eddystone beacons were really designed with Physical Web in mind, without Chrome... iBeacons may be the way to go.

In any case, it would nice to get an official statement from Google... It's bad, with all the excitement built up over the last 2 years in the press, with developers, and hardware manufacturer's and no warning.

Regards

@bisaicx

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bisaicx commented Oct 23, 2017

Yeah, I agree with you, removing the physical web with no warning is not correct... did you get or see any official statement from google? maybe this is just a first step of reconfiguring the whole system... and in that case maybe will be some other opportunity to have a eddystone protocol works without a custom app...

Regards

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chiphysler commented Oct 23, 2017

@bisaicx

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bisaicx commented Oct 23, 2017

Hello,

I try to download-it but there is still no update available on Apple Store...

What do you mean, that Google re-enable the physical web on Chrome?

Regards

@aakashjain

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aakashjain commented Oct 24, 2017

Can we have a contributor respond to this please? @scottjenson

It's really odd that there has been no official word on this so far. Even the documentation hasn't been updated: https://google.github.io/physical-web/try-physical-web#ios

@auge2u

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auge2u commented Oct 24, 2017

Google has a history of this kind of ecosystem surprise.
They tend to kill off the things that don't have enough traction and often not very eloquently.
However, in this specific case, this lack of tech traction which caused Chrome team to drop support has something to do with the wholistic caliber of the awareness efforts and the awareness execution.

In light of the rising interest in personal privacy concerns and the European Data Privacy Laws (GDRP) coming into effect early next year, this decision to back away from the valuable tech seems quite shortsighted. Proximity-based, contextual engagement is not conducive to resist data leaks from a privacy tracking perspective unless you take the Eddystone Physical Web URL approach.

Admittedly it was quite frustrating that the Chrome Team pulled PW support. There are even some tiny oversights in the pull, like forgetting to take out the "chrome://chrome-urls" referencing the previously available "chrome://physical-web". According to @scottjenson which was indicated via Twitter in response to a direct inquiry, the only detection path for PW in the future will be via the Nearby API. This would almost certainly steer a logic to use the EID direction over the Physical Web version of Eddystone. Additionally, @scottjenson also seemed to indicate that Chrome team would make an announcement about this in the next few days about the decision to drop it.

But in my humble opinion, the "trailblazing" Google did to implement Physical Web is/was excellent. Nothing in this hardware/software BLE space is fully ideal but some interesting progress was spearheaded by Google and the PW team.

Of course, I think they (Google) really missed a key set of opportunities to influence a wider adoption due to their well-intentioned efforts to make sure it was a "neutral ingredient technology". And while it would be better if they stayed fully focused and even expanded the support for PW into more than just the "dinky notifications" in chrome's today screen, the buried Nearby privacy settings, or the decision to back out of Omnibox support, there is an opportunity for others to pick up where they are leaving off.

If we can get permission and maybe even support from Google to build a consortium of stakeholders that want to see a universal proximity browser, it is likely that we enhance the chances of success. One key issue is notification management. This is actually a very solvable issue but we have not had that opportunity because we were waiting for Google to up the game.

The people listening here are part of a community of PW oriented people and businesses who believe in this novel technical implementation. There is a unique opportunity to move the needle forward on adoption, increase awareness, drive larger scale implementations, and create high-value engagements with PW.

If interested in participating in this initiative, please contact me directly.
Don't whine, act. :)

best regards,
Agustin

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aakashjain commented Oct 24, 2017

@auge2u Could you please link to the Tweet from @scottjenson that you've mentioned above?

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auge2u commented Oct 24, 2017

scott-tweet-pw-chrome

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scottjenson commented Oct 26, 2017

The announce happened yesterday by the Chrome team. Please follow the discussion w/in that thread on Google groups: https://groups.google.com/forum/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer#!topic/physical-web-discuss/5hkPwciMdH4

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cjzip2016 commented Oct 26, 2017

I'm very disappointed as well. But, I agree with @auge2u that this latest abrupt move by google creates a void that may present interesting opportunities. I certainly bought into the idea of the Physical Web and its possibilities and I still think it's viable. One thing our team has been forced to do over the last 2 and a half years is roll with the punches. This latest announcement is a shot to the gut, but we'll just have to get more creative.

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chiphysler commented Oct 27, 2017

Scott, you and your teams are late... You turn PW off a week before any communication or warning to a large OW following. Who is cleaning up all the PW info on all the Google PW areas on the web. Now a lot of miscommunication and outdated info. Apple ibeacon team is going to love all. Plus now Samsung has the only official browser with beacon detection.

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derekshull commented Oct 31, 2017

Scott isn’t on that team anymore, since August. He mentioned it in another github issue.

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derekshull commented Oct 31, 2017

My guess is this project is going to be up to the community to move forward, which was the original idea. If the need is there it will continue. I don’t believe there’s much of a dedicated team at google for this project now.

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infinitybeacons commented Nov 1, 2017

I Just learned about the PW and what is was capable of. I have invested a significant amount of time and energy into implementing this for my business. I hope there will be some form of cross platform communication developed with beacons in mind. #bringbackphysicalweb / #keepphysicalweb / #bringsomethingbetter #google

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infinitybeacons commented Nov 1, 2017

Physical web in the IOS chrome browser was a hugely significant feature that's now disappointingly been removed. I hope it comes back soon...

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auge2u commented Nov 1, 2017

I am very glad to see a few companies and people with a strong interest in building a path forward for the Physical Web Eddystone URL. With ubiquitous iOS adoption as a key goal, at least from my side, the likelihood of success is higher if we plan to initiate a shared resource strategy on several fronts.

I have been in discussion with several business leaders that have similar goals and are open to contributing energy and focus. Not only do they have an excellent background in their own needs but also some very well thought out concepts and comments on the limitations and challenges of physical web and where to go next.

However, despite the earlier message, I don't have anyone on this list as part of the current working group. A few other people I have contacted actively have assumed that something would happen to/for them with no participation. While the "wait and see" attitude works well in some cases, this is not one of them. We need participants to join the conversation, drive the criteria and maybe support in collaborative development. If you see the potential or even want to be part of the group that shapes the phase 2 of the physical web, please reach out over twitter @auge2u or contact me here.

I am bumping the following to suggest participation because you are feeling a need.
@chiphysler @aakashjain @cjzip2016 @bisaicx @derekshull @beaconstalk @luciofr

What we can do is collaborate and execute for shared value.

rgs
a

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kelvinwatson commented Nov 1, 2017

@auge2u I would be interested in helping in any way I can.

I had originally developed a prototype product with @BryceEWatson using Physical Web but with support now pulled, that project is pretty much done. One thing that's always bugged me was the lack of native support on iOS without Chrome, so I'd like to see if we can do better here.

Is there a Gitter where we can discuss how to proceed?

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bestsmsbulk commented Nov 1, 2017

@auge2u We are also ready to support in this. We have put a big investment on the physical web platform hoping that native support will be available on IOS.

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derekshull commented Nov 1, 2017

I'm up for creating a working group of the next phase. Though without someone from the iOS or Android team to help push the groups agenda forward I wonder how far we will be able to get?

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craigahunter commented Nov 1, 2017

Hi all, well after investing a lot of time and effort into the physical web I guess I’m in the same boat as everyone else here. That doesn’t mean it has to sink though. In th UK it still means 50% of people can still receive notifications so best to be optimistic :).

Scott Jenson told me in a thread of mine a few months ago he was no longer on the Google Chrome Team. I raised my concerns then and he stated that they were not too interested in the project but the eddystone protocol was here to stay so it’s up to us all to make it happen in any way we can.

So we know it’s doable to create scanning apps as there’s a few already, and they show already in notifications when selected as widgets. But they do have their user faults.

I agree that it would be in the interests of many of us coming together and collaborating to perhaps create a single dominant branded scanning app. The alternative will be lots of people putting time and money into lots of different scanning apps all basically doing the same thing. If that time and money could be used between collaborative partners putting together a much more functional app using the principles of the physical web. Well that would be good, and a much better use of our resources. The alternative is to sit and wait to see if Apple do anything, but that’s not productive.

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luciofr commented Nov 1, 2017

@infinitybeacons

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infinitybeacons commented Nov 2, 2017

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auge2u commented Nov 3, 2017

Hello all,

The general enthusiasm is strong.
Next step is a clear call to action regarding the initiative and shape.

Essentially the outline of the plan is to create a formal foundation where private people and/or companies can participate with the shared goal of increasing and enhancing adoption with standards to protect the consumer from abuse and give them choice over permission to interrupt or to be notified.

I would like to have a group conf. call with those who are ready to participate and contribute.
The goal would be next week Tuesday, November 7, 4pm – 5pm (GMT+1) which should cover a bridge time frame between Europe and US at least.

This will not be the only option but I am starting with a suggestion.

I will post the follow-up details for an international dial-in and video call if we all see fit.

rgs
agustin

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bisaicx commented Nov 3, 2017

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TristonGoodwin commented Nov 3, 2017

I'd like to sit in as well, if I may. I'm not sure how much technical help I can be, but I would love to share whatever advancements are made with a couple other communities.

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craigahunter commented Nov 3, 2017

HI all,

I would be willing to get involved as collaboration for something that should be free to download to increase adoption rates will benefit everyone and all business in the long run.

I have already been considering some elements to a workable and better case for a physical web scanner that would essentially need to work across both Android and IOS.

  1. There has been a lack of clarity from Google in respect of the algorithms they are using to decide what notifications are relevant and which are not, and the "discarding" of notifications having a bearing on its gradually disappearing altogether. I personally find it ridiculous at this early stage as there seems to be many barriers that are going to hinder momentum for both consumers and business adoption.

  2. I do believe it is important however to reduce spammy notifications.

Ultimately the user should have the choice, and some good examples have surfaced as to why they should not gradually fail to appear just because they have been discarded by people. What is useful for one person may not be useful o another.

I would consider a series of generalised icons such as Food & Drink, Events, Information, Shopping, Other etc etc. This would allow a user to select which notifications they would be interested in at the time. If someone want to receive lots of offers or discounts then that is what they are looking for and it should be available as an option. If they don't they just turn this option off therefore reducing spam of this type. It is something that needs consideration but a good place to start. My platform already uses a specific location based icon for each sector so that it is clearly identifiable.

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luciofr commented Nov 3, 2017

@auge2u

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auge2u commented Nov 5, 2017

Hi all.

We have the seeds to escort this tech over the chasm from "high tech" to "boring ol' utility" and high consumer value.

For the moment, let's call our shared efforts "PhysicalWeb2" and make these statements;

  • PW should remain an active solution for universal access of proximity resources
  • Eventually, we may try to add controls for notification filtering (category or region based)
  • We would like ubiquitous iOS adoption (cross-platform PW access)

My personal priorities of the PhysicalWeb2 mission would be to enhance adoption of BLE PW, drive value creation awareness, influence the path of broad adoption with press/PR/ads, build a unified strategy for the balance of consumer notification control, provide access, develop standards, decentralized control, and stability.

The purpose of a call is to determine who is interested in active participation vs. supportive participation, have an initial bonding goal setting discussion, and validate the immediate steps for action.

SLACK
I have opened a slack workplace under This link

I have scheduled a meeting for 4 pm GMT+1
US Pacific Coast is 7 am
Eastcoast 10 am
New Zealand is 9 pm

The time selection was intended to create the broadest options for inclusion.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap :
Switzerland: +41315280988,,275157386#

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
Switzerland: +41 (0) 31 528 0988
US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968
Brazil: +55 11 4680 6788 or +55 21 3958 7888
Hungary: +36 1 701 0488
Germany: +49 (0) 30 3080 6188
Mexico: +52 554 161 4288
Sweden: +46 (0) 8 4468 2488
United Kingdom: +44 (0) 20 3695 0088
Netherlands: +31 (0) 20 241 0288
Israel: +972 (0) 3 978 6688
Italy: +39 069 480 6488
Estonia: +372 880 1188
Denmark: +45 89 88 37 88
Canada: +1 647 558 0588
Australia: +61 (0) 2 8015 2088
Spain: +34 91 198 0188
Russia: +7 (0) 49 5283 9788
Japan: +81 (0) 3 4578 1488

Meeting ID: 275 157 386
: More International numbers available here

Looking forward to meeting you or seeing you on Slack.. or both. :)

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infinitybeacons commented Nov 6, 2017

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adriancretu commented Nov 6, 2017

I followed the evolution of PW since the start, and I'm also the developer of the Beacon Toy app used by many people to create virtual beacons on supported Android phones. As you can see nobody from Google is getting himself involved in the discussions here. I believe a few of you are losing the original idea behind why Eddystone scanning was built into Android Nearby - no need for a dedicated app. PW is just a URL-based subset of the Eddystone standard. It sounds a lot like what some of you are trying to do is to go the opposite route, of building a "universal app" to scan. This idea already failed, unless you only heard about beacons since yesteday. Unless you guys convince Apple to integrate Eddystone scanning as a core iOS feature you cannot possibly accomplish anything. As for Android, you already have Nearby APIs, the fact that some of you consider Nearby Notifications as a "black box" when it comes to filtering URLs doesn't really do it justice. Is it buggy? Sure, but there are so many technical issues to workaround, that any initiative would be as buggy. I mean, we're talking about Google here, not a startup's attempt of some viral app. People that want to see all the beacons around them will find the tools to do so. Imagine what the experience would be if all NFC tags had a range of 30 meters instead of a few mm?

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AndyShelly commented Nov 6, 2017

Totally agree with adriancretu. Then from this point it is up to iOS users to choose one of the existing applications to scan for Physical Web URL's and mobile applications with ibeacons and Android users Nearby (Samsung)...Newly built QR scanner can not replace Physical Web for iOS due to fact it is not long range, but it can deliver the same content as Physical Web URL. What would be good pitch to use from now on for iOS users regarding Physical Web if any or just focus on mobile applications with ibeacons?

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infinitybeacons commented Nov 6, 2017

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craigahunter commented Nov 6, 2017

I agree with infinity beacons here too. Adrian in a perfect world (for those of us involved with beacons) all we need to do is persuade Apple to integrate it. Great in theory but probably quite a task. Why google have pulled it personally I feel is silly as in the UK as I stated IOS is dominant.
It would be SO much harder to promote when immediately I am losing over 50% of a customer base. Asking people to do one thing for one system and one thing for another starts to re-introduce the friction process.
The physical web is about being “app free” but this is more about users being able to communicate with multiple sources (or companies and things) without the need for a dedicated app for each and everyone. If it means going away from the principle by having one identifiable scanner across platforms then I would be happy to take a step backwards in this respect.

My other reason for this is this: If business are spending time and money to develope their ideas, only to have Google or Apple one day wake up and say.....let’s drop it!!! Where do we stand? To much dependancy. I had been looking at creating my own scanner up for some time, now it seems we have been given a push to do so......as google keep saying and as Scott Jensonreplied in August when he first told me he was no longer involved....it’s in our hands now.

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craigahunter commented Nov 6, 2017

In regards to a marketing effort I think the barriers for this are high as we are seemingly spread across the globe and to market greatly on such a scale will cost millions. Starting with a simple product that businesses can implement should be enough to get the ball rolling.

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jmartsch commented Nov 6, 2017

I think it would be good if we could develop a common API that can be easily integrated into existing apps of any kind. Thus, we could ensure a further spread and adoption rate of Eddystone Beacons.

At the same time, as @craigahunter mentioned, we should develop a Beacon scanner app with a uniform branding, which can be extended by adding additional features and own branding. Because surely some companies (like mine, for example) want to implement functions that may not match the existing app. Parts of these adaptations could of course be made available to the general public again.

There is a nice open source Android beacon scanner on which we can base our efforts at https://github.com/Bridouille/android-beacon-scanner.

In order to display metadata such as title and description for the beacons found, we need a metadata service.
It is essential that the same metadata service is used everywhere, so that no company has control over which data is displayed and which is not, as Google does with the current implementation. This is the only way to achieve widespread distribution.
The metadata service will cost money and must be developed further.
We currently have our own metadata service based on https://github.com/mozilla-magnet/magnet-metadata-service on Heroku.

Mozilla Magnet is an implementation in Nodejs of a Physical-Web metadata service.
Unfortunately, the project doesn't seem to be actively maintained at the moment. The last commit is dated November 3,2016.
Who bears the costs for hosting?

We also thought a lot about how to get a better display of nearby beacons on Android.
I will try to communicate this to the Android team somehow, does anyone have direct contacts to the developers of the Nearby Notifications?
For example, Ryan Bavetta from the Nearby Notifications Team (see this video https://youtu.be/1a0wII96cpE?t=379)

However, I also have some concerns and questions:
It takes a lot of effort to coordinate a group of people.
Collaboration tools need to be set up, which tools are needed?
Is github enough?
There may be different opinions on how things should work in an App/API.
How should decisions be made? Via voting system? Is github enough?
Who can participate?
Under which license should the app or API be released?
Who pays the costs?
Who takes over which tasks?
How do we get the notifications on iOS?

I hope we can answer some of these questions here or at the @auge2u meeting or in the slack channel @auge2u mentioned.

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auge2u commented Nov 7, 2017

Hi again.

The "get to know ya" meeting today is done and it was a healthy kick-off.

Seems there was some confusion about the date. That was my mistake for not precisely restating the date in the conference details.

We have agreed to continue the meeting in the dedicated slack channel in order to be as inclusive as possible.

We are very interested in more participating members and would, once again, invite you to join the Slack Channel to be a participating member.
Use this invite here:
https://join.slack.com/t/physicalweb2/

Our next steps will be deciding on the "working groups", electing the "initial" stewards of the competency groups, and invite participants to the groups.

The working PhysicalWeb2 association (non-profit) mission would be to enhance adoption of BLE PW, drive value creation awareness, influence the path of broad adoption with press/PR/ads, build a unified strategy for the balance of consumer notification control, provide access, develop standards, and ensure growth with stability.

We will post the news and groups in the General with a summary.

rgs
agustin

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kanodia commented Nov 10, 2017

Hello

My name is Abhishek Kanodia, from India.

I have been following physical web since July 2015. Like a lot of people here, I was also a big believer of this technology. Hence, I spent nearly 2 years of all my time and effort promoting it and building applications and use cases around it.

I launched multiple pilot runs on it through physical web on chrome ios, physical web inside chrome android, and nearby notifications. The range of pilot runs covered providing exclusive deals at events, retail stores to tracking assets in a FMCG supply chain.

And of course, I had thought and ideated about a lot more possible use cases regarding physical web

During my 2 years, I had spoken to 10000+ people about this technology, given demo and interacted with users.

But, after all my efforts, and failing multiple times on this technology, I sort of lost my belief on it.

The technology no doubt is charming and fascinating, more so because of its app less nature, but to be honest, this technology can only work when people switch on bluetooth and know what is it. We are easily talking at-least 4-5 years in future.

Expecting people to switch on bluetooth and then using physical web is not going to happen on its own. There needs to be a complete ecosystem built like wifi, where people know what is physical web, just like wifi.

Hence, to conclude, the odds against it are very high, especially in the next 4-5 years

THanks
Regards

PS: If people need any insights on my experience regarding physical web, I ll be happy to share

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mahnuh commented Feb 11, 2018

Hey @auge2u and @jmartsch,

are you still working on the stuff you described? I just discovered your discussion, but unfortunately the Slack URL does not work anymore.
Some time last year as a result of Google Chrome dropping Physical Web I developed a Physical Web browser for iOS so I am really interested in your efforts and would like to brainstorm, how I can support or how we can work together on this matter.

Regards
Manuel

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Wiejeben commented Mar 12, 2018

This is too bad, especially since Google still has not updated the https://google.github.io/physical-web/try-physical-web#ios about this change (it had me all excited for the past few days).

I do feel like this technology has a future, especially to whisper something to a potential customer that is just passing along.

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deonvisser commented Mar 31, 2018

Reading through this thread, why do you want Google to solve Apple issues. Google should not be bailing out Apple again. Apple should smell the coffee and do something with their IBeacon. Oh but maybe they are so busy with their own self importance?
Downloading an app to scan a beacon is not an option. The mobile user should only have bluetooth enabled and automatically receive notifications as with Google's Nearby on Android.
If you are not part of the IOS and or IBeacon Team the chances that you will succeed is pretty slim. This type of technology needs to be integrated into IOS.

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auge2u commented Jun 12, 2018

We finally launched the https://phwa.io website.

The site should be able to communicate the fundamental value proposition for membership and steer the rationale for participation and allow membership subscription.

"Ready enough" is obviously subjective, but progress is being made and the refreshed version of the PhyWeb iOS app (thanks to James Grant and the initial contributor) is ready for TestFlight invitations for subscribed members.
The membership will provide access to this initial version for feedback, steering, and strategy communication. https://phwa.io/membership/

Extending the initial version with development resources will need some funding and active participation.
The proceeds of the membership fees will go directly toward funding the software development and the coordination of the initial consumer-awareness campaign pilots over the next few months.

We have some interest from both private and some government organizations here in Switzerland, specifically Zurich, Bern, and Basel to develop the smart-city play using Physical Web tech.

If you have some interest in representing PHWA in your area as a local, non-profit, consumer service, please contact me so we can budget and tie press into your project.

In the initial pilot, the PW app and the Android instructions will be promoted with out-of-home advertising (posters and postcards) and press contacts. Please let me know if you can assist with press relationships and/or content in local languages.

In the short-term, signing up to a membership is the easiest way to help us move forward.

The more membership support we have, the more likely we will succeed in creating a perpetual motion to develop further. We will develop and provide hosting services such as a GDPR compliant metadata gateway and reports on adoption with transparency. Additionally, we aim to begin "embracing and extending" the Physical Web standards to solve constraints such as native OS integration, solve the low adoption rates, and to provide more granular content notification controls for consumers.

We have some clear plans and want to help everyone get a positive result.

Best regards from the association founding officers,

Agustin Musi - President
James Grant - Vice President
David Butler - Secretary

Physical Web Association

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