The Big iBeacon Announcement You Missed from WWDC 2016

Posted by on Jun 17, 2016
The Big iBeacon Announcement You Missed from WWDC 2016

There was no mention of iBeacon in the WWDC 2016 keynote but there was an update in a related Apple technology shown in the beta Server software that is going to radically change the beacon landscape. First, some background.

iBeacon is a protocol released by Apple that lets an iPhone detect a nearby Bluetooth device that is transmitting the iBeacon protocol. When an iPhone is in proximity to these Bluetooth devices that support the iBeacon protocol, an app that is registered with iOS to be notified when nearby to this beacon is notified and can do lots of interesting things with this information. One of the  biggest feature of iBeacon support in iOS is that it can launch an app in the background that has registered for that iBeacon info, and it processes that info in the background, even if the iPhone is at the lock screen. This feature is used by our Geohopper  app and lots of others.

We have been working organizations to implement solutions with iBeacon technology, and we have been deploying it in museums, retail stores, for home automation, and more. One of the most potentially powerful areas that we have been working with customers is to change settings on the iPhone when in range of a beacon with Mobile Device Management (MDM). For instance, turning off the camera when in a school locker room. Or removing a document when leaving a meeting. While we are able to trigger setting changes when in range or out of range of a beacon, it has not been possible to ensure that this policy is enforced because the user could just turn off Bluetooth and no beacons would be detected. This is all changing in iOS 10.

In iOS 10, Apple is introducing a new policy key called “allowBluetoothModification” in MDM policy that can be set to true or false. The current beta version of Server shows the key for iOS in Profile Manager. It is identified as “Allow modifying Bluetooth settings (supervised mode) ”. Once this key is set to false, the user cannot turn off Bluetooth and the device will always be notified when in range of a beacon to trigger a change in policy settings on the device.

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The device must be in supervisor mode, so this setting is most applicable to organizationally owned iPhones and iPads (though as a parent, it may be helpful at home as well, like disabling texting while driving).

This represents a huge change to how iPhones and iPads can be managed. They can specify certain policies based on very close proximity, like AirPlay selection, select the apps that are available, the WiFi networks to select, and much more.

And this makes our Trusted Beacon even more powerful.  For example, if an enterprise wants to use location as a second trusted factor in authentication, they can use our trusted beacon to validate that the beacon is really owned by an organization.  With this new MDM setting, they can be secure knowing the Bluetooth will always be on.  Read more about Trusted Beacon on the Trusted Beacon page.

And if you are interested in MDM and iBeacon, check out The next iBeacon frontier: Mobile Device Management posting.  Try it out as well by purchasing the best beacons out there from our store.  Or get in contact with us and learn more about using our iBeacons for setting MDM policy.

 

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