Is ‘iBeacons’ the unexpected (awesome) iOS7 feature?

Is ‘iBeacons’ the unexpected (awesome) iOS7 feature?
Editor at TechForge Media. Often sighted at global tech conferences with a coffee in one hand and laptop in the other. If it's geeky, I'm probably into it.

Along with every major iOS release arrives a host of new APIs; many of the best enhancements aren’t on display to the public, but underlying waiting for developers to create fantastic applications which utilise them.

‘iBeacons’ could be one of the most game-changing.

Apple likes to boast new major features and then move on to a presentation slide with a variety of the smaller additions. This year, many noticed iBeacons, but had little explanation to its usage; now some developers have revealed how they can be used.

Essentially it utilises the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) profile to create micro-locations; these can be attached to real-world objects or the device can broadcast as one itself.

So what use-cases are there? Imagine the blind, who already uses technology called “Talking Signs” that can help direct them towards an object.

A study performed showed when a receiver was attached to a bus door; the blind person reached the door within twenty seconds, compared to five minutes without.

What about practical uses for the rest of us? Try walking into your house at night and your lights automatically come on… simple, but effective!

I’m still picturing an eventual (inevitable?) future where houses will be fully-automated by Siri, Iron Man’s Jarvis-style. Providing this API for developers to create innovative applications and manufacturers to implement capability via BLE could be one step closer to this dream.

Whilst overall I found iOS 7 very disappointing, and still very “locked down” especially in terms of inter-app communication, at least there are a few clever APIs in the midst of this update which should provide a new playground for your development. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Do you have any ideas for great practical implementations of this API?

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