Google launches ‘WifiNanScan’: New app allows Android smartphones to interact at high speeds without Bluetooth and cellular data

WiFiNanScan App Google Play Store
Google launches technology allowing Android devices to communicate with each other without Bluetooth and Internet connection. Pic credit: Dean Moriarty/Pixabay

Google has launched a new application that opens up a high-speed communication pathway between nearby Android smartphones. The WifiNanScan app doesn’t rely on Bluetooth or cellular data.

The newly launched Google WifiNanScan App could be akin to the Local Area Network over Wi-Fi (WLAN) communication. Although currently, developers will benefit from the same, the platform opens up a lot of possibilities in the near future.

What is WifiNanScan App?

Google has been working hard on “local discovery” technologies. Apps can take advantage of the tech to find nearby objects and users. The WifiNanScan App is part of that endeavor.

Google Play Store now has a “WifiNanScan App” for developers to experiment with Wi-Fi Aware. Also known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN), the technology allows Android mobile devices to communicate with each other.

Devices running at least Android 8.0 can run Wi-Fi Aware apps. Once activated the WifiNanScan App will allow smartphones and other gadgets to find each other wirelessly and interact.

The APIs working in the background will help Android devices discover nearby devices and create network connections that can “share large amounts of data” or send short messages.

Needless to mention, devices will communicate over their own networks. This means they will not need any active internet connection.

Google assures the technology supports “higher throughput rates across longer distances than Bluetooth connections”. The obvious limitation would be the need for close proximity.

What are the use case scenarios of Wi-Fi Aware?

The WifiNanScan App is basically a Wi-Fi Aware platform. Any Android device that has Wi-Fi communication can theoretically become Wi-Fi Aware.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has envisioned multiple use cases for Wi-Fi Aware. It would help in connecting with people nearby, playing games, or finding friends at a concert without using GPS.

Possible use cases touted by the Wi-Fi Alliance include:

  • Securely send a document to a printer without first logging onto the network
  • View a restaurant menu and make a reservation while walking by without an internet connection, even when the restaurant is closed
  • Automate and timestamp school check-ins and roll-call
  • Streamline airport security, customs, and immigration processing flows using mobile identification (ID) such as a driver’s license or passport without requiring travelers to present a physical ID

Needless to mention, these technologies are still at the conceptualization stage. Nonetheless, they are quite possible with the current technology.

Such futuristic yet practical facilities only needed the Wi-Fi Aware platform, and Google has offered the same through the WifiNanScan App. Developers who wish to develop apps and services based on Wi-Fi Aware technology will certainly appreciate the same.

Currently, the WifiNanScan App is quite simple. It only offers to measure the distance between two phones precisely. Google explains: “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 Wi-Fi Aware/NAN API.”

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