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Apple is not the first to offer in-store location technology. An app called Shopkick, for example, sends users discounts when they enter Macy's, J.C. Penney and other stores. But Apple's entry into micro-location puts the nascent technology into the hands of thousands of developers and broadens its reach considerably.
Apple said iBeacon provides apps with "a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores."
To take advantage of this, make sure you have Bluetooth enabled on your phone and download the Apple Store app. You'll have to agree to let Apple track your location and to receive notifications while in the store. It'll only work if you say yes to both as you set up the app.
The app will automatically switch to "in-store mode" once you enter. Even without iBeacon, the app already lets you scan and pay for some items using your phone, get customer service help and reserve products.
Location tracking does raise privacy worries. After all, shoppers may not want their every move watched and recorded inside a store. Apple, however, said that it does not collect information about shoppers inside its stores. But other companies using iBeacon could, as long as people who download their apps agree to be tracked.
Privacy advocates have raised concerns about the various ways that retailers track shoppers, whether it's their location, purchase history or how often they visit a store. But consumers often agree to be tracked in exchange for discounts.
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