Apple iBeacon will now work when the app is closed: Is this a game changer?

According to Apple has made a change to its iOS7.1 operating system which will allow iBeacons to push notifications to a phone that has the app installed, even if it’s not actually running. Prior to this change, iBeacons could transmit push notifications but users would receive these only if they had an app installed as well as actively running on their phone when in the vicinity of these iBeacons. Now however, they can receive notifications if the user has the app installed, even if the app is not activated. Will this new change implemented by Apple in its new iOS 7.1 be a game changer in mobile merchandising and engagement?
This new functionality was tested and verified earlier in March by Apple Inc. After opening the app it was hard closed not just by putting it in the background tray but swiping it close entirely. The phone was still able to detect the beacon and send notification message through the lock screen, something which was quite unlike in the past when beacons were detected only when the app was running in the background tray.

This new feature in iOS 7.1 makes it possible to detect beacons even after one reboots the device. The constant listening out for beacons makes it possible to receive product information and product notifications even if one forgets to turn on the app while roaming inside stores or beacon enabled zones.

How this can be a game changer:

This modification in iOS 7 definitely has some major significance. When Apple launched iOS 7 and gave phones and tablets the ability to ‘hear’ Bluetooth LE powered beacons it opened up a new era in proximity-based experiences in mobile merchandising. Retailers could then send a notifications, information or promotions when the customer is near the cookie aisle or background information about a painting in an art gallery.

However it came along with a major problem along with few glitches in the iBeacon SDK, the app was unable to detect or listen to beacons unless it was at minimum running or background tray. This was one way to ensure that users are not constantly bombarded with spamy messages and they could opt out of it whenever they wanted simply by activating the app or closing the app. However with iOS 7.1 users can hear from beacons even when the app is hard closed; ensuring that they do not miss out on information coming out of beacons unconsciously. While some worry whether this will open the doors of spam marketing tactics and bombarding users with messages sent out by the iBeacons, the user can still opt out by turning off “location permission” under settings, can turn Bluetooth off, or can delete the app entirely. Downloading an app associated with the iBeacons is still a must.

But the change is a major boon to iBeacon developers – and will mean you no longer need to find fancy ways to prompt your user to keep an app in background mode and the small move may have bigger implications on how attractive retailers and brands see this fascinating technology being used within their brick and mortar locations.