Apple’s iBeacon seems to be off to a rough start:
Just like GPS points you in the direction of your chosen destination, iBeacon was developed to suggest a possible phone upgrade as you pass a table of colorful iPhone 5c handsets, or inform you of upcoming in-store events when you’re close to the neighborhood Apple retailer. Specific stores can also push notifications about deals or other promotions.
On paper, iBeacon sounds like a great way to stay informed and make easy purchases from inside a congested store. But in practice, it’s not quite as impressive. That’s because it didn’t actually work for me.
During a Friday visit to two different New York City Apple Store retailers, I was unable to activate any notifications, no matter how many times I shoved my phone into a pile of iPad Smart Covers.
At my first stop — Grand Central Station — I connected to the shop’s free Wi-Fi, turned on my iPhone 5’s Bluetooth setting, and ensured that push notifications were enabled, just as instructed. No luck.
iBeacon is — or someday will be — one of those nice-but-don’t-gotta-have-it features. So if it takes Apple some time to get it working, so be it.
These in-store tracking features tend to make my skin crawl, but iBeacon at least has several layers of opt-in. You have to have Bluetooth on, you have to have elected to use the store’s WiFi, you have to have the Apple Store app installed and give it permission to send you push notifications. Oh, and push notifications have to be switched on, too.
I think I could live with that — assuming they ever get it working.