iOS 7 iBeacons – NFC Alternative from Apple for iPhone

When Apple revealed iOS 7 to us in June, not only did it look different, it contained a whole bunch of brand new features and many upgraded apps. One thing that hasn’t received much attention is iBeacons. This is a brand new BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) profile that may be responsible for a new category of apps, due to its ability to enable ranging and micro locations. The apps will provide information that is highly accurate and based on your indoor location.

Image : iBeacon Location Aware Apps and devices

iBeacons iphone 5

When it comes to locating the position of your mobile phone in a large area, GPS and cellular triangulation are perfectly OK. However, these don’t work so well when you want to locate a device that is in a smaller area and indoors. That’s where iBeacons comes in – using a low energy Bluetooth signal, it can pick up the exact location of your iPhone. And, if your mobile device has Bluetooth 4 it will be to sense and broadcast its location and its proximity to other mobile devices, making it even easier to locate.

This can be the start of something quite interesting for developers and users, and even for retailers.  It will work hand in hand with Passbook, which already makes use of location-based alerts, and it is more accurate than NFC, providing a possible reason for the lack of this particular feature on iOS devices.

Apple’s Recent Acquisition :

Apple has recently purchased WiFiSLAM, a company that developed the technology needed to use Wi-Fi to detect device location indoors. iBeacons can also be used to switch lights on, unlock doors, and even open them, just by sending a signal to any device that is listening through BLE.

Image : NFC on a smart phone with a NFC tag sensor

nfc ibeacons iphone 5 ios 7

This could also tie in with the rumors of a smartwatch and a TV, both of which will make full use of Bluetooth. To add to all of this, Apple has also integrated Airdrop into iOS 7, a feature that was previously only available on OS X.  Full success will be determined by how fully other companies embrace the technology. However, with the enthusiasm that Apple projects, they don’t have any trouble convincing other people to join in.



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One Comment

  1. The article states, “… [Beacons are] more accurate than NFC.” This is simply not true. An NFC enabled phone is accurate within less than one centimeter. Within the next year, hundreds of billions of items (or much more) the world over will be have NFC tags embedded at less than one US cent.

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