Beacon Demonstrator App

beaconzoneI recently wrote about how many articles on iBeacons and Eddystone obscure or confuse what beacons actually are due to over emphasis of the (retail) business benefits or description of proprietary server side CMS features. I also mentioned I had written some articles explaining the basic concepts.

Following on from this I have created some simple Android and iOS apps for BeaconZone that demonstrate beacon triggering. The apps work with any iBeacons and allow you to set up triggering within the app itself rather than via a web-based CMS. The triggering settings can be shared, via a common ‘group name’ across phones and even across iOS and Android. If fact, it’s easier to set up on Android as you can detect any beacons but on iOS you can only detect predeclared ones. Hence, it’s easier to set up on Android and sync the trigger data with iOS. Both iOS and Android apps also trigger on beacons when the app isn’t running.

It has been a while since I last developed for iOS. As it happens, getting back into iOS development prompted an existing client to ask me to write an iPhone app for them. So it seems I am back into iOS development for a little while. I have been writing predominantly in Swift which I am enjoying but the change in syntax over time has broken many online code samples. I haven’t ever come across a language that breaks the old syntax over time. It’s very strange because languages are usually forward compatible in that old code never breaks but just becomes deprecated. The iOS app review process is still as onerous as ever and is particularly troublesome for iBeacon development. It took four times as long to get the Beacon Demonstrator app reviewed as it did to write it. However code signing, uploading and sharing beta versions is much easier than it used to be in the early days. Regarding newer iOS features, someone was having a bad day (or a joke) when they added auto layout to iOS, especially the Xcode tooling which is unintuitive and frustrating until you know the quirks. Apple should have taken some time to look at Android Studio.

The beacon ecosystem is maturing what with companies such as Estimote getting substantial funding and Nokia funding Sensoro. However, beacons are still only mainly being used in retail and visitor spaces. I believe they can do a lot more. The link between Bluetooth Beacons, IoT and sensors provides some opportunities and is an area I will be exploring further.