iBeacon

Two years on, iBeacons still haven’t taken off

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iBeacons haven't come too far since launching in 2013.
Photo: Apple

Apple launched its iBeacons to great fanfare back in 2013, but since then… well, they haven’t exactly taken the retail world by storm.

An interesting new article by Bloomberg digs into some of the facts and figures about Apple’s beacon technology, citing reports claiming that only 3 percent of retailers currently use beacons, and just 16 percent have plans to use them in the future.

Hailo uses iBeacons to let users pay for street-hailed taxis

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Photo: Stockproject
Photo: Stockproject

While Uber and Lyft are the most prominent example of smartphones disrupting the taxi industry, a new app feature from Hailo is hoping to shake up both companies by letting Hailo users pay for journeys using their iPhone — even when they’re in a non-Hailo booked taxi.

The feature is called “Pay with Hailo” and uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to automatically recognize taxis, with users given the option to connect and pay for a journey automatically as soon as they set foot inside a vehicle. Even if the driver doesn’t have an iBeacon set up in their cab, it’s still possible to pay the fare by choosing their name from a list inside the app.

Soon you’ll be able to stick iBeacons on anything

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Estimote makes iBeacons in little polygon shapes with cool colors and custom designs. Designed to communicate over low-energy Bluetooth, Estimote Beacons can be used to alert nearby smartphones of a specific deal when they enter a shop, for example.

But what if different items for sale in that shop had their own iBeacons? That’s the vision behind what Estimote is calling Stickers, small adhesive sensors that can be put just about anywhere. As more and more companies adopt iBeacon technology, expect to start seeing these kinds of little beacons everywhere you go.

FCC filing suggests Apple will enter the iBeacon hardware business

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iBeacon FCC filing

Apple’s iBeacon technology has potentially massive implications across a range of areas — many of them having been demonstrated over the past year.

Up until now, however, Apple has handled only the software side of the equation with the aid of the microlocation technology found in iOS. That may be set to change with new first-party iBeacon hardware, for which FCC filings have just been uncovered by electronics company Securifi.

Registered as the “Apple iBeacon” and with a model number of A1573, the document describes how the technology was tested in collaboration with the Chinese company Audix Technology, between April 30 and May 13 this year. The beacon in question (at least in the case of the model tested) is USB-powered, has a diameter of 5.46″, and a working frequency of up to 2.4GHz, which is standard for Bluetooth.

We marvel at the ‘indestructible’ screen of iPhone 6, this week on The CultCast

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This time on The CultCast: thirsty Germans drink the tears of Brazilian children! Ohhh, sorry. Too soon? Also on the docket: the secret Apple eBay store is back at it and selling iPhones at absurdly low prices; we pitch a great new Siri feature we hope Apple bakes in; a Youtuber gets his hands on the iPhone 6’s sapphire screen, and its incredible durability is hard to believe; plus… GEEKN, the new segment where we divulge whatever gadget or activity we’re currently obsessing over. Stay tuned till the end for that.

Have a laugh and catch up on this week’s best Apple stories! Stream or download new and past episodes of The CultCast now on your Mac or iDevice by subscribing on iTunes, or hit play below and let the festivities begin.

Our thanks to Lynda.com for sponsoring this episode! Learn virtually any application at your own pace from expert-taught video tutorials at Lynda.com.


Click on for the show notes.

iOS 8 makes it harder for retailers to track your location without iBeacons

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Starting with iOS 8, Apple is making it impossible for marketers to track you based on your iPhone’s MAC address.

When you walk around a store with your iPhone’s WiFi on, you’re are unknowingly transmitting your MAC address, a unique identifier for your device. Routers need the identifier to join you to a network. Ad agencies and retailers have been tracking these addresses to help offer personalized advertisements to customers based on where they’ve been.

Apple is putting a stop to this practice with MAC address scrambling in iOS 8, which could turn out to be a big win for iBeacon.

Virgin Atlantic to trial iBeacons at the airport

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Was a joke by Richard Branson responsible for helping turn around Apple's fortunes? (Credit: Virgin)
Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson (Credit: Virgin)

Could iBeacons help improve the air travel experience? Sir Richard Branson thinks they could.

Branson’s majority-owned Virgin Atlantic is the latest company to hop aboard the iBeacon bandwagon — announcing plans to use the technology to send customized messages to passenger’s iPhones in London’s Heathrow airport in the UK.

The program, which is being created in conjunction with beacon startup Estimote, will use Apple’s iBeacons technology in conjunction with the Passbook iOS app.

NYC bars use iBeacons to gamify the pub crawl experience

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iBeacon barcrawl

In New York on May 20? If you are, own an iPhone, and fancy drumming up some business for local bars, you may want to get involved with the so-called “BeaconCrawl.”

An interactive bar crawl event, supporting venues in lower New York hit by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, BeaconCrawl will use iBeacons to help gamify the experience of staggering between drinking establishments, getting increasingly legless.

New York Museum Uses iBeacons To Create A ‘Digital Minefield’

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While most of the iBeacon applications so far have involved making retail and entertainment more pleasant to consume, a new exhibition at a New York museum aims to use Apple’s beacon technology to demonstrate the horror of landmines.

Taking place between 11am and 3pm on April 4 at the New Museum, the event lets members of the public experience a “digital minefield” by downloading a smartphone app called Sweeper and putting on a set of headphones.

Visitors then move through the exhibit space, potentially triggering iBeacons if they get too close. If this happens, visitors hear the sound of an explosion through their headphones, followed by a short audio excerpt telling the story of a person affected by landmines.

MLB.com At the Ballpark Adds iBeacon Support

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MLB

Major League Baseball mobile companion app MLB.com At the Ballpark has just received a significant update.

While one new feature is the expected iOS 7 redesign, the most exciting update relates to Apple’s iBeacon technology. As Cult of Mac wrote back in September, MLB has installed iBeacons at 20 ballparks around the U.S. to offer iOS-using spectators point-of-interest mapping and other relevant contextual information during the 2014 MLB season. With MLB.com At The Ballpark version 3.0 support for iBeacons is included.

Maybe Your Next iPhone Will Be a Water-Repelling, Wallet-Replacing Fitness Monitor [MWC 2014]

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the themes were – as we expected – waterproof phones, smart-watches and NFC (again). Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 was a high-profile example of the waterproof trend, and the company also showed its new Galaxy Gear watch, which looks pretty neat for a giant wrist-screen. And NFC is in every Android handset these days.

But how do these themes relate to the iPhone and iPad? Let’s think about that.

Apple Tightens Control Of iBeacon Trademark By Adding It To ‘Made For iPhone’ Program

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Up to this point, the term “iBeacon” has been used to describe just about any location-aware transmitter that can send data to a device over Bluetooth. But now it’s going to get harder for companies to market their products as iBeacons.

Apple is clamping down on its iBeacon trademark by adding specifications for the technology to its ‘Made for iPhone’ (MFi) program.

Including iBeacon in MFi gives Apple complete quality control over where the iBeacon name can be used. When a Bluetooth speaker maker wants to be approved by Apple, it has to go through the MFi program. And now the same process will be required for iBeacon.

iBeacon Comes To Android, Kind Of

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Initial responses to Apple’s iBeacon technology have been decidedly mixed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. After all, exactly the same was true of the iPod, iPhone and iPad in certain quarters upon their release.

Regardless, with Apple keen to push the tech and a number of venues enthusiastic about embracing it, it was only ever going to be a short amount of time before the marketplace rivals started popping up.

Thanks To Bluetooth, Setting Up Your Apple TV Is Now Just An iPhone Tap Away

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Installing XBMC on a jailbroken Apple TV unlocks the ability to play unsupported video formats, install third-party plugins, and more.
Installing XBMC on a jailbroken Apple TV unlocks the ability to play unsupported video formats, install third-party plugins, and more.

It just got a lot easier to set up your Apple TV. Apple has detailed a new way to input login and WiFi network information when setting up a third-gen Apple TV with an iOS device. All you have to do is physically tap an iPhone against the Apple TV to instantly transfer settings over Bluetooth LE (low energy). The Apple TV needs to be on the latest 6.0 update, and the other device needs to be running iOS 7.