Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Stores may soon add an interactive dimension to iPhone owners’ shopping experiences. According to unnamed insider sources cited by 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, Apple is planning on implementing a wireless iBeacon system in the company’s retail stores.
9to5Mac’s sources reported that Apple has already stocked up on iBeacon transmitters and will soon begin installing the devices in retail locations across the U.S. The iBeacons will provide an interactive shopping experience by providing information about nearby products to shoppers via an Apple Store iPhone app. However, the system will only function with devices that support Bluetooth 4.0 and are using Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 7.
Users will be able to learn about additional features or pricing of a product based on their proximity to it. In this sense, Apple’s iBeacon system will create an in-store “Internet of things.” As noted by 9to5Mac, the system could also be used to provide shoppers with alerts about upcoming workshops or other special events.
Apple’s Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled iBeacon communications standard was first introduced as part of iOS 7’s SDK (software development kit) during this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, reported MacRumors. As previously noted by Apple Insider, Apple has also utilized the Bluetooth LE protocol to allow users to wirelessly configure their third-generation Apple TV devices.
Apple is also developing other uses for the iBeacon technology. According to 9to5Mac’s sources, Apple is working on a Maps app update that will include an indoor mapping feature that may incorporate the use of iBeacons. Mashable previously reported that Major League Baseball is in the process of testing an iBeacons-based navigation system for all of its stadiums that may hint at how Apple’s upcoming indoor mapping feature will operate.
9to5Mac noted that Tim Cook had a meeting with Apple’s retail leadership earlier this year where he announced several new initiatives designed to increase sales at the Apple Stores. Soon after the meeting, Apple released an updated version of its Apple Store application. This suggests that Apple’s iBeacons rollout is part of an overall plan to improve customers’ retail shopping experiences and increase the company’s direct sales.
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