Handful Guide to Develop Real Time Location Mobile Apps Using iBeacons

Dec 3rd, 2015

Handful Guide to Develop Real Time Location Mobile Apps Using iBeacons

Location mapping has become a common smartphone feature and many applications and websites ask permission to access the user’s location for providing a better service. Apple’s iBeacon is a specification for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that transmits signal containing a UUID to identify an iBeacon and its distance from it.

Hyperlocal with iBeacon

iBeacon is the best in Beacons broadcasting and Apple will monitor for beacons if the app is not running. With iBeacon, developers can create a more compelling reason for users to turn on their Bluetooth and grant location access. Since it is battery efficient, app users may not be averse to granting location access, which makes compelling case pro iBeacon integration. Thus, with iBeacon it will be easier for marketers to go Hyperlocal.

Developing Real-time mobile apps using iBeacon

iOS has iBeacon API which can be used for Android and other devices that support BLE. For open platforms such as PhoneGap, iBeacon plug-ins is available. Apple has set certain restrictions on how the APIs can be used on iOS platform, but these restrictions do not apply to other platforms. For an existing app, iBeacon can be easily integrated at very little additional cost using the iBeacon API.

There are two types of tracking that are used for beacons –

  • Start monitoring for region – tracks entry and exit of regions and monitoring is done in spite of app being in foreground or background.
  • Start ranging beacons in region – in this case feature only works when app is foreground, though it has a fast update rate with proximity information.

Running iBeacon

To run an app, the developer must download GitHub source code, start the Evothings Workbench, and connect to the workbench by launching the Evothings client. After adding the HTML and JS files, run the project and check the apps functions on a mobile device.

To integrate beacons with an app –

  • You need an iOS device, Xcode and a valid iOS developer account
  • A beacon with iBeacon technology

Flags to be set are–

  • Major/Minor ID
  • notifyEntryOnStateDisplay
  • proximityUUID
  • notifyonEntry/ notifyonExit

Once the regions that need to be monitored are registered, CLLocationManagerDelegate callbacks will be received and entry/exit events will be reported via CLBeaconRegions. The three values that may be reported are –

  • CLRegionStateOutside – outside the specified beacon region
  • CLRegionStateUnknown – no state of the region is determined
  • CLRegionStateInside – inside the specified beacon region

To use beacons on an app, a host of permissions and expectations are required and the beacon identifier has to be linked with something useful in the application. This can be challenging as the technology is yet to gain steam, but the immense possibilities, especially for retail sector making it an interesting technology to work with.

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