Apple launches iBeacon in 254 stores to streamline shopping experience

App-based in-store notifications are coming to Apple's US retail outlets.

Apple will activate "iBeacon" transmitters at its 254 US stores in what's thought to be the first major retail rollout of micro proximity-based retail assistance.

iPhone owners who have installed the Apple Store app and enabled "in-store" push notifications for it should, from Friday, start receiving product suggestions, tips and promotions when they enter Apple stores.

According to the Associated Press, all 245 Apple Stores in the US will begin using iBeacons, which are short-range low-energy Bluetooth transmitters that can detect a device's location more precisely than GPS to determine when to push a notification.

Apple has installed about 20 iBeacons at its Fifth Avenue store in New York City, some of which are iBeacon transmitters and others that are iPhones and iPads geared up for the task, according to the Associated Press report.

Shoppers can expect the app to notify them when an order is ready to be collected, or suggest an upgrade or trade-in on an existing phone. It can also support Apple's ticketing system.

Apple added support for iBeacon in iO7 and the technology is already being tested at Major League Baseball stadiums in the US . There it's being used to send notifications about automatic check-ins, video snippets, ticket availability, coupons and special offers.

London-based startup Exact Editions recently launched its iBeacon service for publishers, offering them a way to make their magazine apps free of charge at certain locations, for example to promote paid subscriptions at a cafe, a hotel or a first class lounge.

The same action can be achieved using geolocation, only with iBeacon it can be controlled down to within 15 metres of a transmitter, it notes.

In Exact Editions' case, it's hoping venues and publishers adopt the concept of 'mini-site licenses', which it argues could help drive subscriptions for the former and patrons to the latter. The other advantage is the potential for better in-store analytics of the type Amazon and other e-commerce sites enjoy.

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