updated 01:35 pm EST, Mon November 18, 2013
iBeacon tech will allow for virtual 'signs'
Apple is working on two display initiatives for its retail stores, sources say. The first is the addition of special holiday decorations, in the form of LED snowflakes, which will surround window displays for the iPad Air and iPhone 5c. The decorations are expected to go up in many countries later this week, and stay in place through early January.
A longer-term project involves exploiting the iBeacon technology in iOS 7. Apple is said to be stocking up on iBeacon transmitters, with plans to start installing them in US Apple Stores sometime this week. Following an update to the Apple Store iPhone app, the beacons will push notifications to nearby iOS devices, letting them receive feature and pricing details for product displays a person is walking near.
The beacons may also alert people to workshops related to a device, such as how to use iPhoto on an iPad. To receive notifications, though, people will have to be using a recent iOS device with Bluetooth 4.0. Owners will reportedly be able to turn notifications off if in the Apple Store app they find them annoying.
Sources add that Apple is testing other uses for iBeacon, such locating people waiting for a Genius Bar appointment, or pushing ads and deals for products on nearby shelves. Still others would tell people if a repaired unit is ready to be picked up, or even provide enhanced security for app-based purchases. If and when any of these concepts will arrive is unknown.