Apple's iOS 7.1 update delivers significant iBeacon enhancements

Ben Howden /

Apple’s latest iOS 7.1 update brings significant enhancements to the iBeacon protocol, including the ability to search for beacons even if a user’s app is closed. Previously, apps could only search for nearby beacons if the user’s app was open or running in the background.

With the latest update, an iBeacon app will constantly look for Bluetooth LE signals unless a user opts out via the phone’s location settings, or turns Bluetooth off. As expected this change has been welcomed by iBeacon developers and marketers, however it opens up the flood gates for spam, which can now be pushed to a phone as long as a company’s app is installed. It puts even more responsibility on iBeacon developers to consider how users can opt-in and out of receiving messages, as well as thinking through what the value exchange is before deciding to push messages to nearby users.

Apple has also made smaller improvements to iBeacon responsiveness as well as cleaning up a range of bugs that have been challenging the developer community (including us!). With these latest updates, it’s now become clear that Apple is taking iBeacon seriously and will continue to enhance features and performance over time.