“Apple cryptically introduced the iBeacons initiative at its developers conference in June, identifying the new technology as a feature of the iOS software developers kit (SDK),” Mike Elgan reports for Computerworld. “In fact, iBeacons is a Bluetooth-based micro-locations system (think very accurate GPS that can be used indoors). But instead of being used by people to determine their own locations, it’s used by retailers, museums and businesses of all kinds to find out exactly where people are, so they can automatically serve up highly relevant interactions to customers’ phones.”

“According to Apple, iBeacons is used for the following: Region monitoring: To identify the general area the user is in, such as a stadium or a mall. Ranging and micro-locations: To determine how far the user is from something, and specifically where the user is. The iBeacons technology may be able to detect ranges from two inches to 160 feet,” Elgan reports. “In a presentation to developers, Apple gave multiple examples of how iBeacons might work in the real world. For instance, the company said that the technology can determine exactly where a user is. If you walked into, say, Jay’s Donut Shop, iBeacons would know for certain that you had walked into Jay’s Donut shop, whereas other location apps might use GPS, Wi-Fi and cellular triangulation to produce a list of guesses about where you were.”

MacDailyNews Take: And, as anyone who’s used geo-location already knows, it’s not nearly accurate enough to work reliably. You could be standing in front of a Starbucks, but if the app thinks the shop is on the other side of the parking lot, it can’t do what it’s supposed to do.

“Apple announced in early August the acquisition of a startup called WifiSLAM… [whose] technology triangulates both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (BLE) to enable precise location tracking indoors. In the context of iBeacon, Apple should be able to know how far a user is from both iBeacons and Wi-Fi hotspots, pinpointing the user’s location to within inches,” Elgan reports. “The final piece of the puzzle for the point-of-sale and transaction part is user authentication, which Apple revealed with the introduction of Touch ID fingerprint sensors… The less insightful commentary on Touch ID suggested that its purpose is to protect the cat videos and electronic receipts on your iPhone — in other words, protect the iPhone itself. But the real purpose of Touch ID is to authenticate users… Apple’s plan is so good — so elegant and cost effective — that it won’t just kill cash registers. It will probably kill NFC, too.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Retailers in the not-too-distant future: “We’d like to offer our services for your cheap-shit, slip-shod, pie-pan-sized fragmandroid phone, but we cannot accurately authenticate that the POS is even yours, it’s too inaccurate to reliably determine indoor locations, and odds are very high that your OS version is too old anyway — not to mention that we already know that you’re a cheapskate and not the greatest decision-maker, so… iPhone-only, beotch!”