iBeacons, announced by Apple at its Worldwide Developer Conference in 2013, are Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE, BLE, and marketed as Bluetooth Smart) transmitters that provide proximity detection and approximate ranging to iOS mobile devices. iBeacons enable iOS apps and enterprise systems to provide personalized, microlocation-based notifications and actions such as:
- identifying individual customers approaching or entering a retail store, and notifying staff of their presence and customer profile,
- providing customized recommendations, coupons or other offers to the individual customer,
- providing indoor location, product location, and routing within the store,
- providing analytics on queue wait times, areas visited, and other information about the customer visit, and
- enabling electronic payment systems.
To use iBeacons, you need iOS 7 or later, Bluetooth turned on, and a compatible iOS device:
- iPhone 4s (released October 2014) or later
- iPad 3rd generation (released March 2012) or later
- iPad mini (released November 2013) or later
- iPod touch 5th generation (released October 2012) or later
With approximately 200,000,000 iBeacon-capable iOS devices in use TODAY, and a limitless number of potential applications, iBeacons will quickly become one of the most important iOS features for consumers and businesses alike.