Google's WifiNanScan App Is A Potential Boon For Android Developers, Here's What It Does
There is a new app in Google Play that is a potential boon for Android handset owners, and it comes directly from Google. You might not recognize its potential by its name alone, however—it is called WifiNanScan, and what it does is measure the distance between two smartphones using the Wi-Fi Aware protocol. So what's the big deal?
"With this app it is possible to obtain a distance measurement with a precision of about 1 meter with phones up to 15 meters apart. Developers, OEMs and researchers can use this tool to validate distance/range measurements enabling the development of peer-to-peer ranging and data transfer, find my phone and context-aware applications based on the WiFi Aware/NAN API," Google explains.
That still does not tell the whole story, so let us elaborate. Wi-Fi Aware is a protocol developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance and it has several nifty use-case scenarios. It essentially allows supported devices to connect with one another, without an internet connection or GPS signal. Think of it as a secure peer-to-peer connection between two devices.
The Wi-Fi Alliance offers up some examples of how this could be employed to useful benefit in the real world. Some of them include...
- Connecting with nearby people to play games.
- Enabling a friend to listen to songs played on your device.
- Finding friends at a concert to share photos or coordinate a place to meet.
- Securely send documents to a printer without logging onto the network.
- Enable autonomous vehicles to share GPS coordinates, directions, etc.
These are just a few example. Another one is being able to view a restaurant's menu or make a reservation when walking past it, even if the restaurant is closed. And in the education field, this type of thing could be used to enhance museum, art gallery, and field trip experiences.
"Wi-Fi Aware leverages the spontaneous nature of user proximity to enable innovative applications. Wi-Fi Aware devices continuously discover other devices within a user’s Wi-Fi range prior to association, making it easy to find nearby information and services that match preferences set by the user. This technology enables truly personalized social, local, and mobile experiences, helping users to get the most out of their mobile devices, even in crowded environments," Wi-Fi Alliance explains.
As for Google's WifiNanScan app, it is limited in scope, in that it is a testing tool for developers (it replaces WifiRttScan). According to Google, the app can obtain a distance measurement with a precision of around a single meter, with phones up to 15 meters apart.
"Developers, OEMs and researchers can use this tool to validate distance/range measurements enabling the development of peer-to-peer ranging and data transfer, find my phone and context-aware applications based on the WiFi Aware/NAN API," Google explains.
In other words, WifiNanScan is not something most Android users need to rush out and download. However, it paves the way for Android developers to build and test some neat apps that tap into the capabilities of Wi-Fi Aware.