There are two protocols for Bluetooth low-power beacons, one is iBeacon created by Apple in 2013, and the other is Eddystone created by Google in 2015. These two protocols have similarities in function implementation and scenario application, and they are getting increasingly popular. Many developers are using Eddystone and iBeacon for location-based marketing, giving companies the opportunity to expand their business and increase profits. If you’re choosing the best platform for content delivery, you need to have a thorough understanding of both protocols. In this article, we’ve focused on Eddystone vs iBeacon. Read on to find out which one suits your project.
Eddystone: Working principle, advantages and disadvantages
Eddystone is a communications protocol launched by google in July 2015. Originally called UriBeacon and later named after the Eddystone lighthouse in the UK, Eddystone is available as an open source protocol on Github. It is based on the open Bluetooth ® LE format and transmits unique identifiers over short distances via Bluetooth ® signals. In other words, this protocol is an extended version of Bluetooth ® LE. Smart Bluetooth devices like phones scan the Eddystone URL and display what the beacon sends on the screen, regardless of whether the app is installed or not.
Eddystone works in much the same way as iBeacon, but with many additional features. A beacon with the Eddystone protocol will broadcast a signal with a data packet, and the corresponding application will trigger the corresponding action when it detects the packet. Data packets are divided into the following four types:
- Eddystone-UID：UID works in much the same way as iBeacon, broadcasting short code at regular intervals and being a unique ID with a namespace component (10 bytes) and an instance component (6 bytes).
- Eddystone-Web：Eddystone-URL broadcasts a URL that can be viewed by anyone with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone
- Eddystone-TLM：The TLM will contain the status data of the beacon, such as battery status, beacon, etc., along the sensor data sent to the cloud.
- Eddystone-EID：EID is a beacon frame that varies over time, and a linked parser can be used. EID creates a secure environment because the encrypted ID self-destructs shortly after transmission. As a result, potential hackers cannot hijack your beacon
Eddystone is an open format, so it is more flexible, customizable, and able to broadcast additional data. In addition, Eddystone not only supports the ability of application installation, but also facilitates application beacon interaction through Google Instant Apps for a wider range of operating systems. It makes it possible for any Android device to be used as a BLE device through a free app, which is very beneficial during the testing and development phases.
Therefore, if your application is for Android users, beacon development based on the Eddystone protocol is a better choice than beacon development based on the iBeacon protocol.
In short, an Eddystone beacon can not only do almost all of the iBeacon beacon can do but also can do some additional functions. It should be noted, however, that the Eddystone technique has some limitations. For example, for an ios-based smartphone to recognize an Eddystone beacon, a physical web must be installed on it. The Physical Web is a discovery service that allows beacons to scan smartphones. To receive physical Web notifications, a physical Web-compatible application or browser should be installed in a smartphone.
iBeacon: Working principle, advantages and disadvantages
iBeacon is a protocol that Apple developed in 2013. iBeacon devices are installed in each part of the area and preset at intervals for Bluetooth signals to be sent. Within the range of a radio beacon, any Bluetooth ® LE compatible device will be able to scan the beacon signal within range and display the corresponding contents. Upon receiving the signal, the pre-installed application activates certain actions. In its early days, iBeacon was used more to help the retail industry streamline payment processes and other marketing services.
Principle of Operation
iBeacon uses the standardized format of BLE ads. The database packet contains four messages:
- Unique Universal Identifier (UUID) : A UUID contains general information about a beacon. For instance, the name of the individual or enterprise to which the beacon devices belong.
- Major: Major refers to the spatial information of the beacon. For instance, the use of such beacons in the aisles of stores
- Minor: More detailed information. For example, this beacon is on channel 2.
- Tx power: TX power is the signal strength exactly 1m from the device.
iBeacon is supported natively in iOS and integrated with mobile operating systems. Here are the biggest advantages of the iBeacon protocol: It wakes up apps on iOS and Android, activates apps and immediately starts data transfer. In the retail use case, this means that the customer does not need to open the store’s application to start receiving marketing and advertising notifications.
iBeacon expands the possibilities of geolocation and provides a viable solution for companies to navigate in real time, achieve digitalization and improve workplace safety. This protocol helps create interactive maps of shopping malls, museums and other institutions.
The downside of iBeacon is the lack of any “fleet” management capability, which means there is no easy way to track beacon placement, operational status, and battery depletion. For your retail employees, to view a set of beacons, they need to walk around with a map of their location and an application that scans each device.
Therefore, if the majority of your app users are iOS device users, then iBeacon app development is a better choice. In iOS, beacon scanning is done at the operating system level using the core location framework. Apple scan performance features and optimized battery usage help improve reliability.
Comparison table: Eddystone vs iBeacon
|Apple iBeacon||Google Eddystone|
|Technology||iBeacon technology is a Bluetooth low-power beacon protocol built into Apple’s iOS 7 and later mobile operating systems that enables ipads and iPhones to constantly scan nearby Bluetooth devices.||Google’s Eddystone, formerly known as UriBeacon, is a beacon protocol for open source ble beacons that can be produced by any business at an affordable cost.|
|Compatibility||It is compatible with iOS and Android, but only iOS.||It is compatible with iOS and Android. However, it is also cross-platform and therefore compatible with any platform that supports Bluetooth beacon devices.|
|Configuration file||It is a proprietary software controlled by Apple.||It’s open source. The specification is publicly published on GitHub under the open source Apache v2.0 license, so developers can access and contribute to it.|
|Accessibility||It’s easy to implement.||It is flexible, but more complex coding is required when integrating because it sends more packets than Ibeacon.|
|Broadcast packet||iBeacon broadcasts only one AD pack, which has a unique ID number and consists of four parts: UUID, Major, Minor, and Tx power.||Eddystone broadcasts 3 different packets:
(1) Unique ID number (Eddystone-UID) – it is basically the same as in iBeacon.
(2) URL address (Eddystone-URL) – It’s used to tell the smart device to open a URL. This way, it doesn’t need to pre-install a specific developer’s application. In addition, it can be used as a driving factor for location-specific application installation.
(3) Sensor telemetry (Eddystone-TLM) – Send sensor data. This is utilized for companies that require to manage a large number of beacons because this frame type can send beacon health statistics and diagnostic data.
(4) EID is a beacon frame that varies over time, and a linked parser can be used.
|Usage||The UUID is tied to the developer’s server. So when information is sent to a smartphone, the device needs a specific application to process the information it receives. Therefore, receiving messages over iBeacon requires a mobile application.||Eddystone sends a URL instead of a UUID, which can simply be opened in a web browser. Chrome supports Today notifications for iOS devices and the Physical Web browser for Android devices.|
|Security and Privacy||There are no such functions as EIDs (Ephemeral Identifiers) in iBeacon. Beacons transmit signals that are public and can be detected by any iOS device and a specific Android device.||Eddystone has EID that changes constantly and allows beacons to broadcast signals that can only be identified by “authorized customers”.|
|API||Apple does not provide a specific API for iBeacon fleet management. An application program interface (API) is a set of protocols,tools and routines used to build software applications. It specifies how software components is required to interact.||Google has launched two APIs (Proximity Beacon and Nearby API), which gives Eddystone benefits in this regard. These APIs also make beacon fleet management much easier.|
By this point, I’m sure you have a good understanding of the concept of Eddystone vs iBeacon, and the final decision may depend on your developers and what they want to use. In addition, with MOKOSMART’s packet interleaving, you don’t have to choose between iBeacon and Eddystone, because our Bluetooth beacon devices are compatible with both.
We are one of the leading iBeacon application development companies in China, with a strong R&D team and sales engineers who are experienced in developing for a variety of niche markets, such as push notifications, payment solutions, shopping, healthcare, travel and other interactive solutions. To purchase or learn more about beacon solutions, contact us!
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