March 8 2016

Eddystone vs. iBeacon: Defining the Best Beacon for You

Choosing between Apple’s iBeacon and Google’s Eddystone is more difficult than it sounds. The former is the veteran beacon and is primarily tethered to iOS, while the latter is the system-versatile up-and-comer with lots of potential. Before deciding, it’s important to take a closer look at both beacons.

How does Eddystone compare to iBeacon?

One major consideration when choosing between Eddystone and iBeacon is its overall usability. As TechRadar points out, iBeacon infrastructure has been created and optimized for iOS users since 2013. While certain APIs allow Android devices to scan for iBeacons, the iBeacon optimization for iOS users and devices is best suited to that particular market. In contrast,Eddystone has been developed with both Android and iOS users in mind, offering three different frame types that focus on browser-based and app-based beacon applications.

One of the most interesting aspects of iBeacon upon its debut was that it allowed everything from airports to sports stadiums to use custom beacons to provide information to individuals via various custom apps. This has provided a number of great options for delivering vital information to consumers, such as departure times and seat locations, via those custom apps. However, from a user standpoint, it can seem a bit frustrating to have to download a different custom app for every place using iBeacon to transmit information.

This is one of the great strengths of Eddystone. Because Eddystone works with web browsers as well as apps, users are able to receive notifications from this particular beacon without having to download a corresponding app. In fact, Eddystone supports three different packet types compared to the iBeacon’s simple UUID transmission, which relies on specific apps to utilize for tracking and other purposes. Network World reports that Eddystone’s packet types are mostly positive:Eddystone-UI is most similar to iBeacon in that it identifies beacons, allowing apps to trigger specific actions. The primary difference is that Eddystone-UI is in 16 bytes and two parts compared to iBeacon’s 20 bytes and three parts.

Eddystone-URL is used to send a URL to a device to push a particular event. While Eddystone is compatible with iOS, Network World notes that users must use Chrome and ensure that notifications are enabled, which is an annoying extra step compared to Android users who require no app downloads whatsoever to use Eddystone. The site fears that unsolicited information being sent directly to a user’s browser may limit the overall appeal of this Eddystone feature.The final deployment is Eddystone-TLM, and it focuses on sending various statistics directly to the app developers. Theoretically, this allows different areas to monitor their beacon deployments and to optimize them after receiving relevant user data.

Which is the Better Choice?

Ultimately, the choice between iBeacon and Eddystone is a choice between present stability or future applications. The iBeacon is the veteran of this field, is relatively simple to use, and has had years of polish to ensure relative ease of use for customers and service providers alike. On the other hand, Eddystone is designed to be more versatile than iBeacon and will inevitably have a greater variety of future applications.

TechRadar notes that some of Google’s future plans for Eddystone include the use of included Ephemeral Identifiers to help locate luggage and to use the built-in ability to communicate in latitude and longitude to help consumers in areas of spotty reception such as national parks and various wild areas. Ultimately, though, region may determine everything: all of the bells and whistles of Eddystone cannot overcome the iOS saturation in America, though the global market is likely to embrace Eddystone in the long term.

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