For the past few years Google has offered an API that lets developers send alerts to smartphones when you’re physically near them. It’s cleverly called “Nearby,” and it’s designed to let you see messages like coupons for a store when you’re actually in that store, guide information when you’re in a museum, or transit information when you’re at a public transit stop.

It was always a feature that sounded like it would have to play a difficult balancing act between useful and annoying… and now it sounds like the scales have been tipped heavily in favor of annoying.

So Google is pulling the plug.

The company says the it will stop serving Nearby Notifications to Android devices on December 6th, 2018.

Google says it came to the decision after noticing “a significant increase in locally irrelevant and spammy notifications that were leading to a poor user experience.”

This isn’t the first time Google has killed a problematic app or feature rather than fixing it. In fact, just this month the company shut down its Google+ social network after a security vulnerability was disclosed. Google patched the bug, but decided that rather than continue to keep updating the security and feature set for a relatively unpopular service, it would be easier to just scrap it.

Of course, “relative” is the key word — Google+ may have a small fraction of the user base of Facebook or Twitter, but there are millions of active users including many who aren’t particularly happy with Google’s decision.

Anyway, I doubt that the death of a feature that almost seems like it was designed to bring spammy notifications to your phone will elicit the same kind of eulogies and postmortems as we saw for Google+ and Google Reader.

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4 replies on “Google is killing Nearby Notifications for Android following uptick in spam”

  1. “Anyway, I doubt that the death of a feature that almost seems like it was designed to bring spammy notifications to your phone will elicit the same kind of eulogies and postmortems as we saw for Google+ and Google Reader.

    But”

    … But what Brad? BUT WHAT??

    1. When Google owns or has leased, and operates all the lamposts or utility poles upgraded to “SMART” capability which keep track of your movements, they will be able to sell “nearby” advertising notifications based on your browsing history instead, if of course there are any brick and mortar selling points still left in business near those smart lamposts or utility poles.

        1. Perhaps a lampost is what a lamprey eats for supper? Or maybe not.

          According to Wiktionary “lampost” is an “alternative spelling of lamppost” and Wiktionary explains that a lamppost is “the pole that holds up a light so it can illuminate a wide area, such as holds up a streetlight.”

          The light emitted by a light on a lamppost is called “lamplight” and the term “lamplight”
          was made famous in the song by Lale Andersen in 1939 as “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (“The Girl under the Lantern”), and the subsequent English lyrics version (by Norbert Schultze and J.J. Phillips and Tommy Connors) with the repeated line “My Lili of the lamplight”, first sung by Anne Shelton in 1942.

          The version recorded by Marlene Dietrich in 1944 for the Morale Operations Branch of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services [OSS, forerunner of the CIA] did not contain the term “lamplight”.

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