Privacy experts have been warning the public about the slow erosion of privacy for years. Last week Facebook Messanger got a lot of negative publicity for the unprecedented level of permissions it required to run. Today, we're looking at iBeacon. So here's what you need to know.
What is iBeacon?
iBeacon is Apple's rollout of Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology. You've probably noticed that once you're inside a building, however large, your usual GPS enabled mapping apps don't function. iBeacon provides a different way of providing location-based information and services to companies; particularly retailers.
How does it work?
The beacons themselves are nothing more than innocuous looking Bluetooth transmitters.
They transmit a signal that is picked up by apps installed on your phone when you come in to range. If you have a movie theatre's app installed, it could remind you to turn off your phone when you enter the theatre. An airline's app could give you information about boarding once you're inside the airport.
What's in it for me?
iBeacon allows retailers to target their customers much more specifically. If you've got a retailers app installed, they could let you know when you pass a shop offering a sale, or if there's an item available that you've previously browsed online.
Why should I worry?
Depending on how many apps you have installed, IBeacon could mean you'll be bombarded by targeted ads wherever you go. It also means that retailers will be able to gather information on exactly how you move around a space; tracking your browsing and purchases.
Which leads people to suspect that this is the future of retail:
What can I do?
Check if your Bluetooth in enabled. If you’re not using Bluetooth enabled accessories, you can disable it if you choose to.