Apple iBeacon and similar technology hasn’t caught on despite early promises

It wasn't that long ago when companies like Apple and Google touted products like iBeacon and Eddystone. The technology, which is made up of tiny hardware transmitters, uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to interact with nearby smartphones, tablets, and other devices, to perform specific tasks. Unfortunately, beacons haven’t caught on nearly as quickly as once expected, according to VentureBeat.

First introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014, iBeacon and similar products, were once off to a promising start. By 2016, for example, 93 percent of MLB stadiums in the United States had beacons, along with 75 percent of all NFL stadiums, 53 percent of NBA arenas, and 47 percent of NHL arenas. The technology is also still being used by large retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Starbucks.

Despite this, beacons haven’t caught on elsewhere.  The reasons cited include compatibility issues, power and range limitations, and the introduction of beacon spam. Some are also concerned about privacy.

Perhaps the biggest reason beacons aren't being implemented at a quicker pace is that they're app dependent.

App dependence was (and is) a major hurdle. It’s tough to convince customers to download a service they’ve never used, even with the promise of discounts — especially considering up to 70 percent haven’t heard of beacons.

Admittingly, before seeing VentureBeat's report, I had forgotten about iBeacon and I'm not the only one. After writing about beacon technology a lot in 2014 and 2015, iDB only covered a few stories about the topic since then, the last being in 2017.


Moving forward, perhaps it's time for companies like Apple and Google to come together and develop a standard that everyone can use, then educate the public on what the technology can do. Otherwise, beacon technology will probably never grow or find long-term success.

What do you think can be done to improve beacon technology?

Gatwick Airport rolls out iBeacons for augmented reality indoor navigation

Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second busiest airport after London Heathrow, has installed 2,000 battery-powered iBeacons for indoor navigation and passenger tracking.

Available across Gatwick Airport’s two terminals, the system is accurate up to three meters, much more reliable than GPS and enables an augmented-reality wayfinding tool so passengers can be shown directions in the camera view of their mobile device.

It could be used to inform passengers they’re running late and help them avoid missing flights.

Conceivably, Gatwick Airport could also take advantage of iBeacons for efficient queue management and to reduce congestion by being able to determine whether to offload luggage if a late passenger is far away.

According to the airport, they won't be collecting any personal data from the beacons with the exception of “generic information on ‘people densities’ in different beacon zones.”

Deployed in just three weeks, iBeacons form part of Gatwick’s £2.5 billion (about $3.1 billion) transformation initiative. The technology is currently being integrated into some of the Gatwick apps.

The airport is in discussion with other airlines to enable the indoor positioning and wayfinding tools to also feature on their apps and services.

According to Gatwick:

Airlines could go further—and with the consent of their passengers—may send reminders on their airline app to late running passengers, for example, or find out where they are and make an informed decision on whether to wait or offload their luggage so the aircraft can take off on time.

The lack of satellite signals makes road-based navigation systems, like Apple Maps, unreliable indoors. That's why Apple has developed inexpensive iBeacons, which are tiny battery-powered Bluetooth transmitters.

Apple iBeacon hardware revealed in FCC filings

Apple's iBeacon technology has seen a lot of success in its first year. The tech, which allows administrators to push data to smartphones based on their location, has already been adopted by a number of retailers and organizations.

But thus far, Apple's success with iBeacons has been limited to software, as it's left the hardware up to third-party firms. It looks like that's about to change, though, as FCC filings reveal that the company has built its own iBeacon...

MLB updates At Bat and At the Ballpark as iBeacon rollout continues

Earlier this year, Major League Baseball pledged to have twenty ballparks outfitted with iBeacons by Opening Day as part of its initial rollout phase. And it did. Stadiums in Boston, San Diego, L.A. and many more cities now feature the tech.

Today, TechCrunch is reporting that the MLB is now entering the second phase of the initiative. And apparently it's planning to debut a special project at the 2014 All-Star Game, which is slated for July 15 at Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota...

EasyJet deploys iBeacon support to select airports

iBeacon, an indoor micro-positioning service by Apple, is among the technologies in their ascendancy. Like Passsbook, iBeacons are being slowly but surely rolled out by the ever-growing number of retailers, merchants, theme parks, sporting venues, festivals and so forth.

A number of capable turnkey systems for easy iBeacon deployment exist today and the tiny transmitters are dirt cheap, removing an important barrier to iBeacon adoption.

You can now put European airline easyJet on your list of iBeacon-friendly businesses.

The British airline carrier based at London Luton Airport is operating domestic and international scheduled services on over 600 routes in 32 countries and now customers can download its freshly-updated iPhone app and opt in to receive in-app iBeacon notifications at select locations “to enhance the in airport experience”...

iOS 7.1.2 released with improved iBeacon connectivity and bug fixes

Apple has seeded iOS 7.1.2 as an over-the-air update and through iTunes for compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch models. The latest software version includes improved iBeacon connectivity and stability, fixes a bug with data transfer for certain third-party accessories and corrects a major Mail attachment privacy issue. The full changelog has been posted ahead.

If you are currently jailbroken on iOS 7.1.1 or below, you will be happy to hear that the Chinese jailbreak tool Pangu is compatible with iOS 7.1.2. You are safe to update to the latest software version, at which point you can follow Jeff's guide on how to jailbreak iOS 7.1.2 using Pangu. Just like on iOS 7.1.1 and below, it remains an untethered jailbreak.

iOS 8 puts app shortcuts on the Lock screen based on your location

Another handy improvement we've discovered in iOS 8 deals with location tracking improvements.

Apparently, Apple's upcoming mobile operating system puts an app icon right on the Lock screen whenever in a vicinity of a location that has a corresponding app in the App Store. Just walk up to a nearby Apple Store and an app icon appears on the Lock screen. Same for places like Tesco and Vons.

"When Location Services is turned on, the device's current location is used to recommend relevant apps on the lock screen," as per iOS 8 release notes. Again, you don't even need to have the app installed on your device. It's important to note that this feature is unrelated to iBeacons, here are full details...

Last minute WWDC rumors: new iBeacon tech, smart home toolkit and more

We've already given you a rundown of what to expect to see at Apple's WWDC keynote. The event, which is in less than 12 hours now, is expected to bring about a redesigned OS X, and a familiar-looking iOS 8 with new apps and features.

But as usual, there are some last minute reports making the rounds regarding today's big announcements. In addition to the above items, it's now believed Apple could introduce new iBeacon features and a 'smart home' toolkit for developers...

Texas Instruments pledges support for iBeacon tech in several Bluetooth products

It's been almost a year now since Apple unveiled its iBeacon geolocation technology, and I really don't think it could have hoped for better results. The tech has been implemented in a number of settings including retail and grocery stores, MLB ballparks, and more, and it seems to get more popular every day.

As evidence of that, Texas Instruments pledged its faith in iBeacon today, announcing support for the tech across its Bluetooth low energy portfolio including chips for embedded and automotive applications. The company also launched a new iBeacon-location app that works with its SensorTag development kit...

BeHere app uses iBeacons to identify which students are attending classroom sessions

iBeacons, Apple's cool indoor positioning technology in iOS 7 based on power-sipping Bluetooth 4.0 networking, is seeing some strong adoption across a variety of industries.

Grocery stores are embracing the technology and retailers like Macy's and Apple's own retail stores have deployed tiny iBeacon transmitters to put useful information on users' Lock screens as they move around the store.

Theme parks, music festivals and sports venues are increasingly using iBeacons and one use case even involves giving bar patrons free access to Newsstand magazines.

The latest iBeacon implementation has to do with the classroom: a new BeHere app by a Brazilian company called Beelieve (free download) automatically takes attendance as students enter the classroom, using iBeacon transmitters...

‘At the Ballpark’ app updated with new iOS 7 design and iBeacon support

Baseball fans will be happy to hear that MLB.com has updated its At the Ballpark iOS app this morning. The update brings the client to version 3.o, and features an all-new design for iOS 7 and support for Apple's new 'iBeacon' tech that will be available in select ballparks this year.

We've known for a while now that Major League Baseball was working with Apple on its geolocation technology, which its Advanced Media group demonstrated last fall. And the organization has said it hopes to roll out the feature to at least 20 parks ahead of 2014's Opening Day...

Upcoming SXSW festival to use Apple’s iBeacons

SXSW, the annual music, film and interactive conference and festival held in Austin, Texas, will use Apple's indoor positioning and microlocation technology dubbed iBeacons to improve the experience by enabling attendees to pick up badges faster using the official SXSW Go app, a free download in the App Store. Additionally, audience members will be able to use the app and nearby iBeacons to interact in real-time during sessions...