A mixed experience with iBeacon at the Apple Store

Apple Store iBeacon notification

Following this morning’s report about the deployment of Apple’s iBeacon technology to its 254 US retail stores, I decided to go to my local Apple Store and give it a try for myself. After agreeing to enable in-store notifications within the Apple Store app, I then drove to the Carlsbad Apple Store.

I didn’t expect to be blown away by this new app/store feature, but I did expect it to work and offer a certain level of relevancy. The results were very mixed, to say the least…

As I walked though the door, a notification showed up on the Lock screen. It welcomed me and invited me learn how to make the most of my visit by launching the Apple Store app. Launching the app showed me a splash screen with the EasyPay option front and center. I thought it was a pretty nice touch. I closed the app and continued wandering through the store.

I stayed a few minutes at the iPhone 5s table where I was expecting a notification to tell me more about the device, or at least tell me about my upgrade eligibility, since it’s part of the features touted by the Apple Store app update. Nothing happened.

So I decided to check out the iPhone 5c table. As a side note, I really love those iPhone 5c models. They look good and feel great in your hand. I’d even venture to say the build quality is better than the 5s. Anyways. After a few minutes at the iPhone 5c table, I hadn’t received any notification. I had however received a second welcome notification.

I then made my way to the MacBook Pro section. As I was browsing iDB from a 15-inch MBP with Retina display, an Apple employee approached me and saw I was reading iDB’s post about iBeacon tech being deployed today. The employee mentioned he had heard about it but he didn’t know it was coming out today. I explained him the basics of iBeacon. He seemed impressed, but not so much after all when I told him it had failed to work properly with me so far. As we were talking, I received a third welcome notification, but still nothing about the products I was actually looking at.

I walked to the accessories section of the store, and yes, I received a fourth welcome notification. I guess Apple really wants me to feel welcome. It’s nice but it’s not what I’m looking for. Still no notification about the various cases I’m checking out.

Apple Store iBeacons

Walking across the store to see other products for sale, I finally get a relevant notification explaining me that I can read product reviews and complete a purchase right from my iPhone. Launching the app takes me to the bar code scanner. I proceeded to scan a couple items. The app was very fast at showing more details about the products. A big colorful button also made it clear I could have purchased the items from the app.

I roamed in the store for a few more minutes, looking at iPads and iMacs, but no notification appeared.

As I was walking out the door, I received a final welcome notification. Not very timely!

From my point of view, this was a very underwhelming experience with more than mixed results. The implementation of this technology is new, which could explain the poor results, but this is certainly not an excuse. Instead of launching this to all its stores at once, it might have been wiser to go through a test period at select stores first.

At the end of the day, this is not a big deal. Sending me notifications when walking around its stores is not something I expect from Apple. However, I have become accustomed to Apple providing a flawless experience in just about every regards. So far, iBeacon hasn’t delivered.

Of course, it must be noted that your experience may vary, but from I gather, iBeacon in Apple Stores hasn’t lived up to its hype quite yet.

Have you tried iBeacon yet? If so, how did it work for you? Make sure to share your experience in the comments section below.