Of all the new features present in Apple’s release of iOS 7, iBeacon is probably one of the less well-understood. That should start changing as more and more users are exposed to places where iBeacons are deployed, but for the moment they just haven’t had that many opportunities to see the system in action. That situation could be getting better right now, as Apple makes a big push to get iBeacons active in its retail stores.
Starting today, all of Apple’s stores in the US will begin using iBeacon technology, including both stand-alone Bluetooth transceivers and iPhone and iPads using software to act as iBeacons. Beyond simply giving users information on products as they browse around the store, the system can alert them of deals, the potential to upgrade on-contract phone hardware, and let them know when orders are ready to be picked up.
As we’ve discussed previously, there’s a lot of potential with iBeacon, but much in the same way as NFC, it’s only really interesting once it starts becoming ubiquitous. Will that ever happen? It’s far too soon to say, but Apple’s clearly going to give it the old college try.