iBeacons are a hot topic and getting hotter. It seems like we're hearing a lot about retailers and others who are chomping at the bit to use the short-range, highly focused location technology for things as varied as in-building directions or targeted advertising. But how are developers able to start creating iBeacon-enabled apps without having one of the Bluetooth devices on hand? That's where some tools from Washington, DC-based Radius Networks can help out.
The company recently announced MacBeacon (US$9.99), which allows any Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) equipped Mac to be set up as a test iBeacon. If a developer is just getting his or her feet wet in the iBeacon world, the company even has a free iOS app called Locate for iBeacon available.
MacBeacon allows developers to create beacon profiles that provide full iBeacon functionality. For developers who want to test iBeacon-enabled apps, it's a great way to see how the apps react to proximity to iBeacons. Devs can give the iBeacon a name for labeling purposes (it's not broadcasted by the beacon), generate a UUID, set group identifiers and adjust the beacon's power level. A full help page provides both an introduction to iBeacons as well as assistance in using the app.
The Locate for iBeacon app does exactly what the name implies -- it locates iBeacons. But it does more than that, providing distance measurements between the iOS device and the iBeacon, a way to calibrate the iBeacon and also a way to turn an iOS device into an iBeacon itself. A developer could theoretically just use the Locate for iBeacon app for testing purposes.