Latest in Bluetooth 4.0

Image credit:

iOS 7 iBeacons: An unsung feature with immense promise

Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

While the world is getting up to speed on iOS 7's more visible features like Control Center and the dazzling parallax effects, there's one feature that hasn't gotten a lot of attention -- iBeacons. TidBITS author Michael Cohen wrote a great piece this week that talks about the feature and what it can do for iOS device owners in the future.

iBeacons was just a word on a slide at WWDC 2013, but as Cohen points out, it has the potential to provide some amazing functionality. To quote Cohen, "Apps can use iBeacons to answer the question 'Where am I?' not in terms of a location on a map, like GPS does, but in terms of where the device is relative to another device. Specifically, where it is relative to another device acting as an iBeacon."

An iBeacon is a radio that can be placed anywhere, and when an iOS device gets near it, it can estimate how far apart the device and iBeacon are. Any iPhone 4S or later, and any third-generation iPad or later, has the ability to be an iBeacon through the use of Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

As Cohen explains it, BLE devices are battery-friendly and can run for weeks without recharging. So how could they be used? Well, a store could set up iBeacons in each department or aisle, so you could use a store directory app and get in-store directions to something you're looking for (are you listening, Home Depot?). Museums could offer tour apps, and Cohen even imagines a future version of Find My iPhone that would work inside a house, finding that iPhone that slipped between couch cushions.

Third-party standalone iBeacon devices will start at about US$100 each, and Cohen posits that the price may drop quickly and significantly due to the popularity of iOS. Right now, there's really nothing that takes advantage of iBeacons, but this is a capability of iOS 7 that is just waiting for the right app to come along.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

New York state bans sales of flavored e-cigarettes

New York state bans sales of flavored e-cigarettes

View
After Math: Shut it down, shut it all down

After Math: Shut it down, shut it all down

View
The best USB-C hubs and docks

The best USB-C hubs and docks

View
'Gears 5' will add new modes and maps in its first six months

'Gears 5' will add new modes and maps in its first six months

View
Hulu's 'Castle Rock' season 2 teaser shows the origins of 'Misery'

Hulu's 'Castle Rock' season 2 teaser shows the origins of 'Misery'

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr