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What Are the Differences Between iBeacon and Eddystone Beacons?

Apple announced iBeacon (protocol/firmware) in December 2013.

Google announced Eddystone™ (protocol/firmware) in July 2015. Side note: it was called UriBeacon for a while, then it was announced that the tech had evolved beyond the original specs. To differentiate, they changed the name to Eddystone.

iBeacon

  • iBeacon works with iOS and Android
  • iBeacon transmits a UUID (16 digit string of numbers), Major (4 digits) and Minor (4 digits). That’s it. Nothing else. They aren’t mini-servers or tracking devices. Beacons themselves do not track anything. Apps do the tracking if that’s what they are programmed to do.
  • iBeacon requires an app to receive that specific UUID to be able to engage.
  • The UUID is typically the same for all iBeacons working with a specific app. The “Major” and “Minor” IDs are used to identify each beacon uniquely.

Eddystone

Beacons with support for Eddystone can transmit three different frame-types: Eddystone-URL, Eddystone-UID or Eddystone-TLM. All three frame-types work with iOS and Android. You can have a single beacon with Eddystone firmware transmit one, two or all three frame-types.

  • Eddystone-URL (Browser Beacon)
    • Eddystone-URL is the beacon format for the “Physical Web”, where you put content if you want everybody to be able to access it.
    • Eddystone-URL does NOT require a custom app but does require a beacon browser (http://www.bkon.com/browsers). Upside: you don’t need to build/develop an app.
    • Eddystone-URL broadcasts a URL, which is simply a web page. Nothing complicated about it. You can link to any site on the Internet.
    • Those links can be easily managed with PHY.net.
  • Eddystone-UID (App Beacon)
    • Eddystone-UID requires an app to receive that specific UID for your app to be able to engage.
    • Eddystone is very similar to iBeacon, but it only broadcasts a 16 digit string of characters, divided into a 10 character “Namespace” and a 6 character “Instance” ID. Typically the Namespace is used to identify an entity and the Instance an individual beacon.
    • No two beacons will ever have the same UID.
  • Eddystone-TLM
    • Eddystone-TLM bridges both App and Browser uses. (TLM = Telemetry)
    • The main function of Eddystone is to transmit sensor and administrative data from the beacon itself. Currently this frame includes the beacon’s battery state, its temperature, the time since power-on, and a count of the advertising packets since power-on, but it could also include other sensor data in the future.