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Android-based iBeacon competitor Datzing lets you set up beacons using old phones

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Apple(s aapl) drew a lot of attention to location-aware advertising when it introduced iBeacon with iOS 7, and so far, Android(s goog) hasn’t seen an equally notable competitor. That might change later this year with the arrival of Datzing, a location service similar to iBeacon that’s launching on Android later this year, according to The Verge.

iBeacons use a Bluetooth transmitter (or a beacon) to transmit messages to someone’s phone when they’re within close proximity. This can have a number of uses. It allows stores, for instance, to share sales and coupons with customers as they enter a store, or help them find the closest checkout counter. And it’s allowing the MLB to bring interactive experiences to its stadiums throughout the U.S.

As explained by The Verge, Datzing, which was designed by former Vertu designer Frank Nuovo, behaves in much the same way. As someone with the app installed comes into range of a transmitter, it can broadcast a notification that will show up in their app. This will allow users to transmit coupons, images, links to websites and the like.

Datzing screenshot

There are two key differences between Datzing and iBeacons. The first is that, unlike iBeacons, Datzing will function outside of Apple’s ecosystem. The app will first be launching for Android, with plans to expand to other platforms (including iOS) in the future. So ultimately, Datzing could have a larger reach.

Even more interesting, though, is that Datzing doesn’t require you to purchase any special hardware to set up an access point. Instead, the service lets you use any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi device as a transmitter. This means you can use a laptop over a home Wi-Fi connection, or even an old phone that has Bluetooth. This should make the service easily accessible to small businesses and other curious users.

The app will be free, and so will the first beacon. You’ll need to pay for additional beacons, but pricing hasn’t been announced yet. The beta app is expected to launch in March, with an official release slated for later this year. If you’re interested, you can head to Datzing’s site and sign up to become a beta tester.

7 Responses to “Android-based iBeacon competitor Datzing lets you set up beacons using old phones”

  1. Jeff Putz

    Beacons aren’t iOS specific in the first place. They never have been. Used as intended, all they do is pulse out a signal twice a second with a unique identifier. The app on the phone then asks a server somewhere what that identifier means. Again, this is not iOS specific.

    • Adam Burrell

      In addition to being platform-agnostic, Beacons can also be created using existing hardware provided it has Bluetooth LE. That’s several generations of iOS hardware and a good number of Android devices as well. That’s also pretty inelegant when you can spend very little money on a device that’s actually designed and built to be a beacon.

      Apple supports beacons at the OS level with the iBeacon framework, making it much easier to implement. Merchants can bake it right into their existing apps. Clean and tidy.