Today’s connected world is full of opportunities for people to digitally interact with their surroundings on the fly. For example, smart parking meters let users pay through the cloud. But for developers, it’s often difficult to build contextual experiences that people can easily access. Even with the prevalence of smartphones, users are reluctant to install an app or even type a URL while on the go.

The Physical Web is an open source approach to help you build contextual interactions that people can discover and use with less friction. A few months ago, Chrome for iOS added a Today widget to let users open a new tab or do a voice search right from the Notification Center.  The new Chrome for iOS  integrates the Physical Web into the Chrome Today widget, enabling users to access an on-demand list of web content that is relevant to their surroundings.

It’s easy to make your content discoverable via the Physical Web using Eddystone, an open Bluetooth Low Energy beacon format announced last week. Eddystone supports multiple frame types for different use cases. The Physical Web displays content that is broadcasted using Eddystone-URL, the beacon frame type designed to convey compressed URLs. You can add your content to the Physical Web by simply configuring a beacon that supports Eddystone-URL to transmit your URL of choice.

When users who have enabled the Physical Web open the Today view, the Chrome widget scans for broadcasted URLs and displays these results, using estimated proximity of the beacons to rank the content. You can learn more about the types of user experiences that the Physical Web enables by visiting our cookbook and joining the open source community on GitHub.

The new Chrome for iOS is an early exploration in enabling users to access the Physical Web in their day-to-day mobile experiences. As the ecosystem grows,  we’ll continue to explore new ways to bring the Physical Web to users’ fingertips. We’re looking forward to seeing the new contextual experiences you’ll build.

Posted by Jake Leichtling, Physical Web Explorer