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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Today Apple released iOS 7.1.2, a small update that includes several bug fixes, including enhanced “iBeacon connectivity and stability.” The update is available through Software Update on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches running iOS 7.
Here are the changes in the update, as noted by Apple:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Macwrote 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.
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.
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.
Automatic, the smart driving assistant I described as making my old car future-proof, has been updated with iBeacon functionality. The immediate benefit is that the connection between the Automatic hardware and iPhone app will be improved. But putting iBeacons on the road holds some exciting long term possibilities as well.
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.
You know how you walk into a coffee shop or bar, order a refreshing beverage and then grab a newspaper or magazine to read? Now, thanks to Apple’s iBeacons, you can do the exact same thing, only you can peruse the provided periodicals on your iPad or iPhone.
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.