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First look: Using iBeacon location awareness at an Apple Store

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Apple on Friday enabled iBeacon location-aware transmitters at all of its U.S. retail stores, giving the company the ability to easily provide product information and allow shoppers to quickly check out via their iPhone. But initial tests by AppleInsider show the use of iBeacons remains limited at launch, suggesting bigger things are yet to come.

Apple Store


Upon launching the official Apple Store application as of Friday, users are asked to enable in-store notifications. Doing so requires that users give the application access to location data, as well as the ability to send push notifications.

Upon enabling in-store notifications, our tests found that the app immediately began using the geofencing functionality of the iPhone to track our location, even though we were not in or near an Apple Store. Force-closing the app prompted the geofence perimeter apparently established by the software to go away.

Upon entering an Apple Store, we found that the official app knew immediately that we were present at that location, even before we connected to the store's free Wi-Fi. A splash screen in the app provided quick links to EasyPay, help, support, a gift guide and more.

When walking around the store, we found that at the moment only one push notification was provided: "Shopping for accessories? Read product reviews and make you purchase right from your iPhone." This same message popped up regardless of what part of the store we were in.

The lock screen notification invites users to "slide to get started." The message left us with the impression that we would be taken to view details about accessories, but instead we were provided with the Apple Store app's EasyPay functionality, which lets users scan and pay for an item on their phone without talking to a store employee.

Apple Store


From our test at a smaller Apple Store, it would appear that the initial implementation of iBeacons is simply designed to allow holiday shoppers the ability to more easily purchase and check out from the store. This could be beneficial as crowds grow and employee availability may be limited.

However, Apple's ambitions for its iBeacon rollout are much greater. The company's own application states that users will be able to pick up orders quickly, see what's happening in the store that day, read product reviews and buy accessories, and view upgrade eligibility all with in-store notifications.

Employees at one Apple Store revealed that a large number of iBeacon base stations were installed at that location, though they declined to say exactly how many. The large number of installations was done to ensure that shoppers would be able to receive an iBeacon Bluetooth signal throughout the store.While the functionality is limited now, Apple has promised that iBeacons in its stores will become more full-featured in the future.

As such, employees said they took measurements in the store to ensure that an iBeacon signal could be accessed no matter the location.

Separately, analyst Brian Marshall of ISI Group also tested out iBeacons in an Apple Store on Friday. He came away with two message prompts: the aforementioned accessory notification, and one asking users to check their upgrade eligibility and offering information on how to trade in an old iPhone.

Marshall also found it annoying that iBeacon repeated the same notification about upgrade eligibility once again after it had already been viewed and declined. He did not experience any notifications while browsing iPad or Mac product stations.

"iBeacon was not being used to offer special deals/promotions, but instead as a tool to convey information," Marshall wrote in a note to investors. "We were hoping to find deal offers."
post #2 of 13
Please put these in Home Depot and Whole Foods. Tired of endlessly searching for stuff in those stores...
post #3 of 13
"iBeacon was not being used to offer special deals/promotions, but instead as a tool to convey information," Marshall wrote in a note to investors. "We were hoping to find deal offers."

What would ever make him think that now, after all these years, Apple would offering BOGO or % discounts? I saw that as an unreasonable statement.

I do agree that once you receive a notification about an upgrade then you shouldn't get that again for at least another day.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaporland View Post

Please put these in Home Depot and Whole Foods. Tired of endlessly searching for stuff in those stores...
I think every store should release a system that allows a user to search for a product and it tell them the aisle and availability of the product.
"Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." - Margaret Thatcher
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"Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." - Margaret Thatcher
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post #5 of 13
Originally Posted by Rmb0037 View Post
I think every store should release a system that allows a user to search for a product and it tell them the aisle and availability of the product.

 

“Excuse me, could you bring me one of these lamps?” *points to empty shelf*

“Sorry, dude; if it’s not on the shelf, we’re out.”

“My phone says you have six in the back.”

“That’s…” *grumbling*

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #6 of 13
Quote:
 From our test at a smaller Apple Store, it would appear that the initial implementation of iBeacons is simply designed to allow holiday shoppers the ability to more easily purchase and check out from the store. This could be beneficial as crowds grow and employee availability may be limited.

 

You could always check yourself out with this app. 

post #7 of 13
Sounds a good way to outdo Google in advertising revenue.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by aBeliefSystem View Post

Sounds a good way to outdo Google in advertising revenue.

 

It's like an ad you can't ignore.

*Man walks past Billboard*

*Bleep bleep* goes his phone (from the solar powered iBeacon slapped on the back of the billboard)

"Sir, I'm sure you didn't *mean* to walk past my wonderful ad."

 

It's a good technology but I think this is the wrong application for it. It would be better in art galleries, Museums, historical monuments when you actually want the info.

 

But yeah, Google would be worried if iBeacons end up in widespread use. You're less likely to Google a product in a store, if the information about it has already been pushed to you. The iBeacon pre-empts your Google search and allows the seller to control the search result.

post #9 of 13
I've been fortunate to see some really advanced iBeacon demonstrations, via the guys at Journification, in New York... They have so many examples on the bench and several trials happening in the wild.

Journification, have really surprised me with the total capability of the beacons themselves, which they don't manufacture - however, the power they have utilise is in the apps they are deploying and the way they are getting users to sign-up to the apps themselves. Next, the user experience is simply amazing. They have contextual, proximity and even direction of transit messaging going on. I'm also aware, although I've not seen it, that they have temperature and altitude applications in development. I have seen their guerrilla marketing proposals and I'm stunned at where they are going!

I think Apple will kick start this adoption and familiarity of iBeacons and Journification (and other agencies - if they exist yet) will just take this entire genre to another level.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by fruitstandninja View Post

"iBeacon was not being used to offer special deals/promotions, but instead as a tool to convey information," Marshall wrote in a note to investors. "We were hoping to find deal offers."

What would ever make him think that now, after all these years, Apple would offering BOGO or % discounts? I saw that as an unreasonable statement.

Particularly since nothing in the app says a thing about offering discounts

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #11 of 13

What's mind boggling about Apple's deployment problems is that they didn't learn from the flaws in their own technology. It's not like this stuff isn't known - it IS known, and documented. Instead of designing a user experience in recognition of the limitations of the iBeacon framework, they designed something that a beginner would do: sending push notices through the lock screen when those messages can queue up or delay for minutes at a time.

 

It's nice to see them using their own technology - maybe now they'll understand what the developer community has been complaining about: that you can design great ibeacon experiences, but it's IN SPITE their technology/API not because of it.

 

I documented some of this stuff - maybe they can have a read.

post #12 of 13
In Great Britain there seems to be a lot of 'tap for extra info' points around.
They are simply cheap NFC tags which proffer info on a tagged item.

Quite obviously, that is user participation whilst these are simply a localised, yet maybe Apple centralised, SMS type messages.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Thompson View Post
 

It's nice to see them using their own technology - maybe now they'll understand what the developer community has been complaining about: that you can design great ibeacon experiences, but it's IN SPITE their technology/API not because of it.

 

 

Its called "eating your own dog food" and it is good to see them use there own stuff. You can't compare the experience that an Apple Engr has using an API with that of a developer (even with good contacts inside).

 

When I worked at Apple and I wanted to see how to use something (an API) I could usually get on the servers (inside Apple) and look at the users/teams stuff and there was often demo or test code. The other thing was that if I still needed some help I could usually walk around in the same building or pick up the phone and have a quick chat with the guy that wrote it. The biggest difference I've found - when you are inside you can access resources that just are not available if you are outside. Apple does generate more sample code now and makes simple samples easily available.

 

There is a lot more you have to know today then when I left (early 90's) but the average developer has much better tools available today that come with the system. I have been programming Macs since early 1985 when you didn't have to spend $10000.00 on a Lisa. Things have gotten much better and I truly believe Apple understands how important the developer is (and at least they can get up at WWDC and speak about tech instead of doing the monkey boy dance - "Developer, developer, developer, developer, developer..." LMAO.) 

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