iBeacons: how iOS 7’s secret weapon could kill NFC

Apple’s Bluetooth tech could also provide a new dawn for indoor navigation
Apple iPhone 5S

One of the lesser covered new features from iOS 7 is support for something called iBeacons. 

Don't feel too bad if this tidbit passed you by – even Apple didn't really mention the iBeacon as being part of the new OS’ super powers. Indeed, the word has only appeared once from Apple, at the bottom of a slide full of other stuff, back in July. 

It turns out, however, that iBeacons could be a lot more interesting than they were given credit for. Like, kill-NFC clever. 

Seriously? iBeacons? It's like the company is becoming an iParody of itself


Yeah, we weren't too taken with the name either. Especially as it's yet another technology which isn't proprietary to Apple and so will probably be known by more than one name when it gets out. Remember Firewire/LINK/Lynx/IEE-1394a? PayPal has already announced something like iBeacons called Beacons, which are probably the same thing, and Google may already be supporting it under a different name too.

iBeacons on Android?

Well, sort of. Since Android 4.3, Google has supported a technology called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and that's what iBeacon is based on. The thing is, only a small start-up called Estimote has really gone into detail about iBeacons – other companies are still saying that they're under a strict NDA from Apple which means the silver collar around their neck will explode if they try to tell you what iBeacons are.

You know I can almost see Tim Cook pressing that button, while stroking a white cat

Just look at Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies and tell me you don't see the truth.