Thursday, September 26, 2013

iBeacons used to activate Apple TV by touch

iBeacons is a new feature in iOS 7 which uses Bluetooth to measure the distance between two units. Now, it appears that the first practical application for it is to active an Apple TV simply by touching it with an iPhone.

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iOS 7 provides a lot of new features for its users. One feature is known as iBeacons which uses Bluetooth to measure the distance between two units. The principle is based on setting one devices up as a beacon, which would actively measure the distance to Bluetooth-enabled units in the proximity. This idea has many similarities to the NFC technique that is used by most other smartphones and also smartwatches.

Apple has envisaged the iBeacons to be used as a way for users to, for example, pay for certain goods in supermarkets or other public places, in a similar fashion that NFC is used. However, now, the first practical use of iBeacons has been demonstrated through Apple TV.

Following the latest update of Apple TV, a user can easily activate their Apple TV by simply touching it with an iPhone, iPod or iPad that has iOS 7 installed. While the gain here may be somewhat minimal as setting up the Apple TV is rather straight forward, it does demonstrate the potential of iBeacons.

With the above said, it is still unclear what the benefits are with iBeacons compared to NFC. In principle, it makes little sense to focus on a completely new technology when NFC is starting to gain market acceptance. Hopefully though, the Apple NFC patent will allow iPhones to support NFC in the future.

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