iOS 7.1 includes a host of obvious and subtle improvements, including a key addition that will make iBeacons smarter.
Until now, an app had to be running in the background on an iOS device for an iBeacon to interact with it. iOS 7.1 lets apps look and communicate with nearby iBeacons even if they are not open.
BEEKn was the first to find the change:
After opening an iBeacon app we hard closed it: not just putting it into the background tray but swiping it closed entirely. The phone still detected beacons and sent a message through the lock screen, something which in the past was reserved for apps that were at minimum running in the background tray.
The functionality even works if you reboot your device: after you power down your phone and start it up again, it will continue listening for beacons even if you don’t open up the app again.
Bluetooth needs to enabled for iBeacon to work, and a device can be kept from communicating with iBeacon by disabling location permissions in Settings.
iBeacon was originally an overlooked technology in iOS 7 until shortly after the software was made publicly available last fall. While some worried about iBeacon allowing developers to spam users with notifications, many retailers, including Apple, are already embracing the technology as a tool for creating a more interactive shopping experience. MLB has installed iBeacons in ballparks to help attendees get around and access additional game content.