Introduced in the summer of 2013 as a feature of iOS 7, Apple's new mobile notifications system iBeacon is being touted by big brands as the next great opportunity in advertising. Using tiny Bluetooth wireless transmitters affixed to buildings, iBeacon lets companies send iPhone owners specific pop-up notifications based on their location and proximity to stores and products. But privacy advocates are concerned it could also be too invasive. Follow the spread of iBeacon as more organizations adopt it in an effort to sway customers through their most personal of devices.
Jul 31, 2014
San Francisco Airport testing beacon system for blind travelers
San Francisco Airport is testing out location-aware beacons to help visually-impaired people navigate around one of its newest terminals, a program it could roll out to the rest of the airport if successful. An early version of the system was shown off to press today for use on Apple iOS devices, though SFO also plans to make it available for Android users and eventually expand the system to serve up information for those who can see.Read Article >
Jul 8, 2014
Taxi app will use Apple's iBeacon and your iPhone to broadcast coupons to nearby users
How would you feel being a walking advertisement? If you're wearing a T-shirt with a company's logo on it, that's one thing. But your phone — in your pocket? That's quite another, and it's just what taxi hailing company Taxi Magic is doing with its iOS app. A new version being released this Thursday will let you beam out your referral code for the service to others, all using Apple's iBeacon technology.Read Article >
Jan 31, 2014
MLB introducing Apple iBeacons to 20 ballparks in March
When Apple added support for iBeacons — small, lower-power Bluetooth LE transmitters that offer a host of location-based services — into iOS 7, Major League Baseball was one of the first companies to show the new feature's potential. Now a source familiar with the matter has confirmed MLB will be installing and using thousands of iBeacons in some of its teams' ballparks by the end of March.Read Article >
MacRumors says 20 of the 30 teams in the league — including the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, LA Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants — will have their stadiums outfitted with around 100 beacons in March. The iBeacons, which have already been deployed in clothing and grocery retailers, in addition to Apple's own stores, will connect with MLB's iOS At The Ballpark app. The functionality they provide will reportedly vary by ballpark, but the technology allows for the transmitters to provide "point of interest information, concessions, shopping, and loyalty and rewards programs," in addition to mapping services to guide people around large stadiums.
Jan 20, 2014
Ex-Vertu designer launches iBeacon competitor for Android
Location-aware advertising was thrown into the spotlight last year when Apple launched its iBeacon service in 254 stores. iBeacon uses Bluetooth transmitters to push alerts to shoppers' phones as they walk around Apple stores and other retail outlets. Foursquare launched a similar service that tracks your location and pushes alerts to your phone when it detects you are near something of interest. Datzing, a new service developed by ex-Vertu designer Frank Nuovo and launching for Android later this year, promises to take that idea even further by making it easier for businesses and groups to broadcast messages to passersby.Read Article >
Datzing's system essentially behaves the same way as Apple's iBeacon: when a user is in range of a beacon, their phone will receive a notification in the Datzing app. The difference with Datzing and iBeacon is that Datzing is not limited to Apple's ecosystem and doesn't actually require an investment in any hardware to set up a beacon.
Jan 16, 2014
Apple's iBeacon expands to 100 American Eagle stores
Apple's iBeacon technology is making its way into 100 American Eagle and Aerie stores as part of Shopkick's latest trial. iBeacon allows for the creation of simple transmitters that can communicate with a smartphone — often to tell that phone where it is — and Shopkick has been moving aggressively to get its branded beacons into retail stores so that it can automatically notify shoppers of deals and product suggestions when they walk in the door. It would be a huge improvement for Shopkick, which currently relies on users opening up the app when they're in a store to view deals.Read Article >
For now, Shopkick users who walk into one of the 100 American Eagle stores when the trial goes live next month will only receive a notification at the door. But Shopkick eventually wants to have beacons placed all around the store, telling customers about deals on coats when they're near outerwear, or T-shirts when they're looking at tops, or other department-level recommendations. It's the same plan that Shopkick is trying out in Macy's, though the trial there is limited to just two stores. Getting American Eagle on board pushes Shopkick's plans much further along — now it just needs to get into each department, letting it do a lot more than a simple check-in ever could.
Jan 7, 2014
Grocery stores push coupons to iPhones with iBeacons
Late last year, Apple outfitted 254 of its US stores with small, low-power Bluetooth transmitters. Called iBeacons, the transmitters work in tandem with iPhones running iOS 7 and the Apple Store's dedicated app to provide users with very precise location information and guides to getting the most of their shopping trip. Now a company called inMarket is the bringing the technology to provide a group of US grocery store customers with deals, reminders, and rewards.Read Article >
Dec 7, 2013
A shopping trip with iBeacon, Apple's secret weapon for navigating stores
Apple today quietly switched on what many consider to be a secret weapon of iOS 7: iBeacons. The technology allows your iPhone to provide a location-aware shopping experience whenever you walk into any Apple Store in the US. It does this by communicating with tiny, low-power Bluetooth transmitters hidden above shelves and under product display tables. These transmitters reveal your precise location to the Apple Store app, enabling it to instantly ping you with notifications about hardware you're toying with at any given moment. Perhaps more importantly, it also highlights features of the Apple Store app you may not have known about. For instance, approaching the iPhone section will result in a prompt asking if you'd like to check your upgrade eligibility.Read Article >
But Apple's stores are just the first step; iBeacons could start popping up at retailers, museums, sports arenas, and countless other destinations in the months to come. Macy's is already conducting a private iBeacon trial through a partnership with Shopkick. (An authorized app is necessary to make iBeacon work. Nothing happens if you don't have an app capable of "listening" for the transmitters installed.) Since the potential here is so big, we decided to waste no time testing the technology at Apple's stores. To put it lightly, we came away with mixed results.
Dec 6, 2013
Apple's iBeacon location-aware shopping goes live today
Apple is switching on "iBeacons" across its 254 US stores today, according to a report from the Associated Press. iBeacons, which use low-power Bluetooth transmitters to offer location-aware services to your phone, were quietly introduced along with iOS 7, and although other retailers have toyed with the idea of adding beacons to its stores, Apple's rollout today represents the first major deployment of the technology.Read Article >
The Apple Store iBeacons will work in tandem with the Apple Store app. Provided you've got the app on your phone and have given Apple permission to track you, it'll attempt to offer an augmented retail experience tailored to your needs. When you walk into the store and the app will enter "in-store mode." If you're standing next to an iPhone table you might receive a message asking if you'd like to upgrade your iPhone. If you like, the app will then check your upgrade eligibility and let you know how much you can trade in your old model for. Another example given involves notifications that will automatically bring up your order number as you walk up to a clerk to pick it up.
Nov 21, 2013
Macy's begins iBeacon shopping test, will send alerts to your iPhone when you enter stores
Your iPhone could soon know when you walk into a Macy's, and start telling you what to look for. Macy's is the first major retailer to roll out support for Apple's new iBeacons, a type of Bluetooth hotspot introduced in the newest version of iOS. Within the "coming weeks," iPhone owners who use the retail app Shopkick will start receiving a notification when they walk into either Macy's Herald Square, New York or Union Square, San Francisco locations. The notification will direct them into Shopkick's app, which can alert them to deals and remind them of products they were interested in that are on sale at the store.Read Article >
So far the trial is limited — Macy's will only ping your iPhone when you actually enter the store. But down the road, Macy's might also ping shoppers on a department-by-department basis, possibly telling them about sneaker sales when they're in the shoe section, or even recommending nearby products they could have an interest in. The iPhone integration is only a trial for now, but if it can actually get shoppers buying more clothes and goods, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Macy's rolling support out to additional locations.
Sep 25, 2013
Apple TVs can now be set up just by tapping them with an iPhone
Setting up a new Apple TV just got a whole lot simpler. Users will now be able to set up their entire system just by tapping an iOS 7 device against it — no slow process of scrolling and clicking through menus needed. The process will automatically beam over a user's Wi-Fi network and password, their iTunes Store account, and their language and region preferences to the media streamer. It works by connecting the two devices over Bluetooth, and it's ostensibly one of the first applications that we've seen of what iPhones and iPads are capable of when using Apple's new iBeacon technology, which creates low-power Bluetooth hotspots that perform simple functions, much like what can happen over NFC.Read Article >
Though the feature was first discovered this July inside of beta software for the Apple TV, it's only now rolled out to most users through the latest Apple TV software update. It only works on the latest generation of Apple TV, however, but it will be able to connect with most iOS devices made in the last several years.
Sep 11, 2013
iOS 7's iBeacons could solve indoor mapping, make shopping better, and kill NFC
With all of the focus on iOS 7’s UI changes, the more substantial developer-facing advances (details of which are still under NDA) haven’t been getting quite as much attention. Some of the most promising improvements are being made to the system’s support for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), encapsulated in a profile Apple is calling iBeacon. The details still haven’t been published, but GigaOM writes that it's poised to enable tiny, low-power Bluetooth devices to provide micro-location services like indoor mapping, serving everything from coupons to hard-coded GPS coordinates to any interested devices in the area.Read Article >