The software, which can pinpoint your location to within a few feet, is already on millions of devices
Apple’s (AAPL) product event in San Francisco on Oct. 22 featured the expected upgrades to the iPad and MacBook lines, with better processors, sharper displays, and increased battery life. The bigger news was quietly rolled out a little more than a month ago, when Apple unleashed iOS 7 onto the world. Embedded in the mobile operating system’s flashier interface and multitasking features is a new technology called iBeacon that can pinpoint your location to within a few feet.
Search Google (GOOG) for “Apple iBeacon” and you won’t get any results from Apple.com. Look for the term on the company’s website, and you’ll get one hit, a link to Apple’s list of trademarks. IBeacon is software that enhances the location-tracking services in an iPhone, an iPad Mini, or any device running iOS 7. For retailers desperate to turn smartphones from distractions into a sales tool, it provides a quick way to target ads and other messages to consumers as they walk through a store. For Apple, it’s a chance to collect valuable shopping data and to build a mobile-payment platform into a dominant retail standard. Apple declined to comment. “IBeacon’s momentum is just getting started,” says Hari Gottipati, an independent tech consultant in Phoenix, “but it’s going to explode faster than anyone can imagine.”
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