Apple's iOS 8 uses iBeacon tech to bring location-aware app access to lock screen [u]

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2014
While not a shiny new feature like HealthKit, Apple baked what appears to be new iBeacon functionality into iOS 8, making the process of proximity-aware app and content pushes passive and more discovery oriented.



Update: It now appears that this features takes advantage of Location Services to determine the handset's location, much like the App Store's "Near Me" feature. According to Apple, "When Location Services is turned on, the device's current location is used to recommend relevant apps on the lock screen. In this beta, this happens whether or not the App Store is enabled for Location Services."

With iOS 8, Apple is building on iBeacon by allowing what looks to be unobtrusive push notifications to show up on an iPhone or iPad's lock screen. The feature is working even with the early developer preview build, with apps like Apple's own Apple Store title responding to the wireless pings.

The screenshots above were taken in a New York Apple Store from an iPhone with iOS location services turned on. When we neared the store, a small transparent Apple Store app icon appeared in the bottom left corner of the lock screen, directly opposite the Camera access slider. Swiping up on the icon caused our device to freeze, though the fact that the asset is there shows Apple is working on something quite novel.

Another test at a Starbucks location, which is piloting iBeacon technology at various outlets around the country, invoked an App Store icon. Swiping up took us to the iOS App Store, though the page it directed to would not load.

As we did not have the Starbucks app installed on our iPhone, we assume the notification was attempting to lead us to the app's download page. Unfortunately, the impromptu test's results were inconclusive as the App Store was completely unresponsive at the time.


App Store icon (left) appears when target app is not installed.


Apple seems to be wary of bombarding users with notifications via the service, however, as options in the Apple Store app's Settings menu allow for fairly granular control of when these pushes will show up onscreen. In the case of the Apple Store, iOS 8 users can elect to allow location access "Never," "While Using the App" and "Always." Alternatively, users can opt out the first time an app is opened.

From the looks of it, Apple is leveraging iBeacon technology to send out generic pings to iPhones that invoke a target app to be displayed when in relatively close proximity to a beacon device. The system was less flexible in iOS 7 as users had the option to receive notifications via alert screens, or nothing at all.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I had a small Starbucks icon, not App Store icon, in the lower-left corner today when I entered Starbucks. When I slide it up it opened my Starbucks app. Does that mean iBeacons were active in that store or is that how the new Passbook passes look and work?
  • Reply 2 of 12
    guiguihipguiguihip Posts: 25member
    I had an App Store icon when I was at CVS although I don't have the CVS app, but more importantly, I have Location Services turned off for the App Store! Should that happen?
  • Reply 3 of 12
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,965member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    I had a small Starbucks icon, not App Store icon, in the lower-left corner today when I entered Starbucks. When I slide it up it opened my Starbucks app. Does that mean iBeacons were active in that store or is that how the new Passbook passes look and work?

    What's that shopping cart icon in the photo on the right? iBeacons or Passbook?
  • Reply 4 of 12
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    What's that shopping cart icon in the photo on the right? iBeacons or Passbook?

    It's for the Apple [retail] Store app but I don't know if that works for both Passbook and iBeacons as I haven't been able to isolate the two. Perhaps tomorrow I'll can find out.
  • Reply 5 of 12

    I'm pretty sure this uses any available location data, and not just iBeacons.  I was in a location yesterday that I'm almost certain doesn't have an iBeacon and I saw the icon on the lock screen.  I believe it simply uses CoreLocation to get a location and find what's nearby, which would mean a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, cell and iBeacons are all used, but no single one is required for this to work.

  • Reply 6 of 12
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Here is a screenshot from this morning's trip to Starbucks. Since I have the Starbucks app installed the little icon appeared in the lower-left corner, but my Passbook pass also appeared on my lock screen. The employee I spoke didn't know about any iBeacon. My guess is that [@]maverick808[/@] is correct about it using your location even without iBeacon… assuming you're allowed it to do so.


    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/44120/width/350/height/700[/IMG]
  • Reply 7 of 12
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Here is a screenshot from this morning's trip to Starbucks. Since I have the Starbucks app installed the little icon appeared in the lower-left corner, but my Passbook pass also appeared on my lock screen. The employee I spoke didn't know about any iBeacon. My guess is that [@]maverick808[/@] is correct about it using your location even without iBeacon… assuming you're allowed it to do so.

    700

    Maybe.

    "iBeacon" electronics are so inconspicuous that I doubt a lackey would notice it unless pointed out. I've helped with the mechanical parts on one, that enclosure is about a third the length of a Snickers candy bar, most of the size is just to hold two AAA batteries.

    I think it can be easily done in the size of a quarter if one were so inclined.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    I would hazard a guess that, if you have the Starbucks (for example) app installed, it could use either an iBeacon or the location data. I'll have to test this out. The clue would probably be distance--my Walgreens pass appears when I'm at Panera Bread, which is a street and both parking lots away, much greater than an iBeacon's range.

    Now, if you don't already have the app installed, I have to imagine only an iBeacon would be able to direct you to the App Store to download the app.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 999member
    AppleTV App icon when sitting in my living room please!

    (Assuming AppleTV will shortly be an App - which leverages and aggregates content provider Extensions)
  • Reply 10 of 12
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,359member

    I don't want stuff that I have to "dismiss" appearing on my screen every time I walk past a freakin' beacon, but if all it does is present that little icon on the bottom and let me decide whether or not to respond, I can see this being really handy and cool.

  • Reply 11 of 12
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,965member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Here is a screenshot from this morning's trip to Starbucks. Since I have the Starbucks app installed the little icon appeared in the lower-left corner, but my Passbook pass also appeared on my lock screen. The employee I spoke didn't know about any iBeacon. My guess is that [@]maverick808[/@] is correct about it using your location even without iBeacon… assuming you're allowed it to do so.


    700

    Where were you that it was minus 86°? :lol:
  • Reply 12 of 12
    This App is amazing it's made it very simple for me to try out new Apps without browsing the Apps store. I don't know why there are a lot of negative comments for it but, I feel it's a great innovation and a great idea.

    http://www.westcables.com/
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