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back to article iSpy with my little eye: Apple wants to track your every move

Apple is planning to use a hidden feature of its iPhone software to track customers as they wander around its stores, according to reports. Mac rumours website 9to5Mac claims that Apple is planning to install tracking devices around all its US shops. These iSpies will use a feature of iOS 7 called iBeacon to judge a shopper's …

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Black Helicopters

I presume...

We can turn this feature off?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I presume...

No sadly you can't.

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Re: I presume...

This is Apple we're talking about. Of course you can't.

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Re: I presume...

Actually, Apple are pretty good when it comes to privacy features that the user can enable/disable.

Settings | Privacy | Location Services

Location services, of which this is presumably an example, can be switched off either globally or at the level of individual apps.

Also, iBeacons rely on Bluetooth AFAIK, so if you forget your tinfoil hat, you can always turn that off.

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Silver badge

Re: I presume...

It's part of the Bluetooth stack. Turn bluetooth off and it's gone. Also, as it is part of location services, you can enable/dissable it globally or on a per app basis.

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Anonymous Coward

I have iDevices but have never set foot in the Kingdom of Apple stores and never intend to.

So long as this technology stays within the castle walls I have no problem with it.

If it migrates to beyond these walls and into my life I will not be a happy bunny.

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Anonymous Coward

If it migrates to beyond these walls and into my life I will not be a happy bunny.

I'll be a bit more than "not a happy bunny" - you can count the seconds between me finding out and a whole heap of legal trouble for Apple.

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What do you mean "if"?

> If it migrates to beyond these walls and into my life I will not be a happy bunny.

Of course it will. First as a voluntary opt-in service where you get a discount on the products; then as a default service you can opt out of, bundled with hardware/services; finally as a fully integrated part of Google's and Apple's respective software and hardware packages.

We're all frogs, and we're all being cooked.

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Black Helicopters

Re: I presume...

> I presume...

> We can turn this feature off?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I presume...

iBeacon relies on Low Energy Bluetooth (BLE), so turning off Bluetooth would disable this feature (this information is from Apple Developer). Apple apparently preferred to use existing features such as Bluetooth instead of throwing in a NFC chip, I imagine using a different technology than Google for this was also very attractive.

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Re: I presume...

In Soviet Cupertino, feature turns off you.

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Right now, someone at google is screaming...

...WHY DIDN'T WE THINK OF THAT?!?

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Terminator

Re: Right now, someone at google is screaming...

Because the the Google Brainiac machine was too busy contemplating cat videos.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/15/google_thinking_machines/

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Re: Right now, someone at google is screaming...

Google can and maybe even will implement this. iBeacon is the Apple implementation of Beacon, which is an open standard that works using BLE. Paypal is the one pushing this standard, hoping to get it used for payments (so in that regard it does compete with NFC, but AFAIK Google doesn't have any particular allegiance to NFC)

https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/beacon

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Seems logical, why have a drone to tell you prices and events if your iShiney can do it for you

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Facepalm

@ukgnome

Seems logical, why have a dronelive fully functional human with which you ma have to...(gasp!)... have an actual conversation with tell you prices and events if your iShiney can do it for you

There. Fixed it for ya....

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i heard rumour this was coming. While its a clever idea, its nothing that hasnt been done before, although this time round its a slightly better implementation.

Apple trying to convince its punters that this is better than NFC, when its a completely different product.

More confusion for those shiny lovers.

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Anonymous Coward

Beware the heathens

People saying it's part of the bluetooth stack or can otherwise be turned off, are simply lying.

Blatant fanbois who don't want to see their false idol demeaned.

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FAIL

Re: Beware the heathens

Since it is implemented using Bluetooth LE (which is well documented) perhaps you could explain how it could work WITHOUT Bluetooth being enabled? Thought not.

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Trollface

WOT???

Apple shops are quite small aren't they? Whats the i Beacon log going

to read: START...Zombie looked at i Phone, looked at i Pad looked at

Apple TV...sniggered, looked at Mac Book Pro, under breath said

"How Fuckin Much?", went back to i Phone, left shop..........END

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Re: WOT???

Some Apple stores are pretty large, actually, spread over several floors.

Android apps can potentially make use of iBeacons just as well as Apple devices, and the use to which they will be put will be a little more imaginative than that described in your happy log, which doesn't actually seem to pay much attention to reality, in terms of the typical buyer queues that you find in an Apple store.

There are any number of reasons why it could be extremely useful for your phone to know where it is inside a building. Example: you're wandering around a museum listening to information on your phone, and proximity to an exhibit room triggers a commentary on the Exhibits App. Example: you're in the maze of a subterranean Japanese station and you need to find the exit nearest your hotel. Example: you'd like to wander into a booked cinema screening without waving tickets around. Example: you'd like a realtime map update of your location in a big shopping centre, directions. Et cetera. Et cetera.

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Trollface

Re: WOT???

Well, "Ding Dong", Mr Bell i had no idea that Apple stores

had MORE than one floor. Would that be a floor for iPhones,

a floor for iPads, a floor for Mac's and a floor for all the GLUE

that's needed to stick them together these days?:)

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Windows

Puzzled

I have never been into an Apple store. In fact I have never seen one and I don't even think that the nearest one in this country is less than four hours drive from here. Which is, of course, how it should be.

Anyway, I am curious as to how all this works. If I am walking around the store looking at things and their price tags would I want to have my phone beep and there's a message telling me what I now already know?

After the fitfh or six thing I am looking at and message received wouldn't I get a little tired of this? Or have I missed the point entirely?

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> I have never been into an Apple store. In fact I have never seen one

Oh you've missed something. I had heard people talk about the Apple fanbase as a "cult", but I thought it was hyperbole... and then an Apple store opened nearby. I happened to walk by on the day of the opening the queue was, I'd guesstimate, about half a mile long, people had been queuing for hours, and if this had been PC buyers they would likely have been a bit testy. Not the Apple fans. No they (and this creeped me right the fuck out) were SINGING AND CLAPPING HANDS.

I still haven't been in the store; I can't shake the feeling that the salesdroids will try to hook me on Dianetics.

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SVV

Wow, cool say the fools

Get a quick patent on the iPricetag, because having the price of an item beamed to your shinyphone is much cooler and definitely not more bothersome than reading it off a piece of card adjacent to said item.

But how will the shopper not currently in possesion of such a device be able to get the information they need?

And I would assume that if I needed to be informed that a broken iGadget of mine had been fixed, an easier system called email (or do they call it iMail?) would be more appropriate than having to wander round an Apple Shop (tm) with a different non-broken iGadget in order to ascertain this.

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Personalized price tags?

Will the beamed price tags depend on how much the fanboi/fangurl is likely to spend today, based on an analysis of past buying habits? Will fanbois/fangurls start comparing the offers while in store? Who will clap harder: the one with the lower price or the one with the higher (presumably the more valuable customer)?

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Siri voice

"feel better now?"

"make sure you wash your hands"

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Not the same as NFC

With NFC the end user has control on where and when it shares the information, a tap (or bonk) is required. With this option the user is not in control outside of turning the feature off.

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Expectation

I'd have expected the author of this article to provide the details of the iBeacon feature, how it works, what benefits it may give to either party ( the beacon deployer and the iThing user ) and what the downsides might be.

In the absence of that information, as a few others report, its a BLE solution enabling the phone to pick signals from 'beacons'. In most cases the beacons will be relatively passive, simply transmitting an identifier when another device is in range and require the phone to have an app deployed to identify the beacon. The phone would then use a web service to provide 'utility' to the user: e.g. in a store where an individual as a loyalty card & associated app installed, the individual may be 'guided' to something of interest. Even more simply, the beacon could be transmitting a URI for a cafe's free WiFi.

BLE range, at 3-4 mtrs, is much more useful than NFC.

Sure the objective is to promote (sell you) something but it's not about tracking, 'they' can do that already as you're more likely to have WiFi enabled than Bluetooth.

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Re: I'd have expected the author of this article to provide the details...

Check the byline - it's Jasper "I can't tell the difference between Bluetooth and NFC" Hamill.

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Thumb Down

Re: I'd have expected the author of this article to provide the details...

I'm beginning to expect that virtually every Reg headline will have the word 'Apple' in it as clickbait so that the poor (and getting poorer rapidly) writing quality is ignored.

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Re: I'd have expected the author of this article to provide the details...

If you don't like it, then the is no compulsion for you visit the site. If you do visit, accept the house style. Perhaps you'd be happier at Ars Technica.

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