11

I was in Walmart this afternoon, and later this evening I noticed a strange icon in the upper left of the home screen on my android phone. On examination, I found a notification ostensibly from Walmart asking me to rate my visit, timestamped seven minutes after the timestamp on my receipt.

I have no Walmart-related apps on my phone, so how were they able to push a notification to it, let alone IDENTIFY it while I was in-store in such a way that would allow them to do so?

screenshot of the unwanted Walmart notification

  • 8
    This is from Google Maps iirc, which uses your device location (GPS, nearby Wifis, beacons) to track your phone. – Martin Fürholz Nov 19 '18 at 3:28
  • 2
    @HenryF No, it's from Google Maps. You earn "points" as Google Guide and may earn more storage space because of this. – ThoriumBR Nov 19 '18 at 11:17
17

TL;DR: By December 6th, 2018, Google stopped serving Nearby Notifications. Android users won't receiving this kind of notifications.


How were they able to push a notification?

As @Martin Fürholz pointed out, that was came from Google Maps notification service. Specifically, from Nearby Notifications feature that being developing by Google for the last years.

Nearby Notifications Overview:

Nearby Notifications helps users to discover what's around them, by surfacing location-specific notifications for apps and websites, with no prior app install required. Using Nearby Notifications, you can:

  1. Drive your own app installs.
  2. Open personal or business profiles in social apps.
  3. Launch conversations or chatbots inside messaging apps.
  4. Drive consumers to content about nearby products.
  5. Help users explore store inventory.
  6. Drive checkins, reviews within local/travel apps.

Neither experience requires that an app is installed on the user's device.

(source)

How Nearby works:

Nearby can use small amounts of Wi-Fi or mobile data to connect to Google and get info about broadcasts or shared apps.

Nearby doesn’t track, monitor, or send personal info from your phone.

  • Nearby broadcasts are one-way, like over-the-air TV or radio. Services that send Nearby signals don’t detect or get data from your phone.
  • When you give permission, apps that work with Nearby share with each other using remote servers. The sharing devices don’t connect directly.

(source)

How to disable Nearby Notifications?

  1. Open your phone’s Settings app
  2. Tap Google > Nearby > Settings
  3. Under "Notification categories," tap a category.
  4. Turn that notification type off.

(source)

Related articles:


But, keep in mind, Google decided to discontinue support for Nearby Notifications. They'll stop serving Nearby Notifications on December 6th, 2018. Learn more.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.