Apple Stores gaining iBeacon transmitters to guide shoppers, deliver alerts

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| December 6, 2013

Apple Store app screenshot

Apple Stores are known for being crowded places that can occasionally be so packed with people that it can be hard to find products or employees to help with something. However, the Cupertino firm is today rolling out a solution to help alleviate issues like that using a technology called iBeacon.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Apple will roll iBeacon out to all of its 254 U.S. retail stores today, Dec. 6. The iBeacons use Bluetooth to send messages to iPhone owners when they come within the proximity a transmitter. These transmitters can tell users when their order is ready for pickup, when their repair is completed or invite them to check their upgrade eligibility when they're standing near a table of iPhones. iBeacons can be adjusted to transmit within certain distances, so Apple could use them to send messages for specific products or beam them to a user no matter where he or she is in the store.

In order to receive iBeacon messages, users must be running the newest version of the Apple Store app on their iOS device. Once installed, Bluetooth functionality must be enabled and users will need to agree to allow Apple to track their location and send them notifications.

This iBeacon tech sounds like it could come in handy for iPhone-toting Apple Store shoppers, especially considering how busy the shops can get. Location tracking technology like this can make some folks a bit uncomfortable, but Apple says that it's not collecting any information about its users while they're in the stores, and anyone that doesn't want the iBeacons to track them can simply disable Bluetooth or revoke Apple's ability to find their location and send notifications.

What do you think of the iBeacon technology? Do you plan to try it out the next time that you're in an Apple Store?

Via Associated Press, iTunes: Apple Store