What is an iBeacon¶
An iBeacon is a small wireless device that broadcasts its presence over Bluetooth Low Energy. Apps can register for updates on when the user gets in range of these devices. The phone doesn’t have to pair or set up a connection to detect it’s there.
This allows you to send a notification when a user is near an iBeacon (instead of when a user enters a geofence for geofencing messages). iBeacons allow you to target users within smaller ranges, for instance inside a store or another kind of building. The smaller targeting radius further increases the relevance of the notification.
Starting from version 1.5.5 of our iOS plugin and version 1.7.0 of our Android plugin, iBeacon notifications are supported. Android support for iBeacons in our plugin isn't enabled by default. You have to add an extra library to enable iBeacon support. Instead of when a user enters a geofence you can send a notification when a user comes near an iBeacon. This allows targeting users inside a store, stadium or another kind of building with a smaller match range to increase the relevance of the notification.
When iBeacons are entered in the dashboard then the plugin also monitors the distance to beacon devices to determine whether a notification should be sent to the user. This feature is available on iPhone 4S and newer and for Android devices with Android 4.3 or higher.
Several companies started with selling iBeacons. iBeacons provide the possibility to send location based notifications when the user is inside in a building with a small range instead of a larger region outside. This allows to target your users more precisely.
Each iBeacon has three characteristics that allows to distinguish between multiple iBeacons. The three characteristics are:
This is the highest level identifier for beacons. You can specify up to 20 different identifiers per app in our Dashboard. We recommend setting this identifier to the same value for all beacons you own.
A number that identifies a group of related beacons. For example, you could give all the beacons in the same store the same majorId. It is required to specify this field when you add an iBeacon.
Another number to distinguish between your iBeacons. For example, you could use this to distinguish between multiple beacons in the same store. You can specify this field when you add an iBeacon to differentiate between beacons with the same majorId. When this field isn't specified, then all beacons that have the specified majorId will trigger a notification.
Some vendors allow to order an iBeacon with these values specified by you, others give iBeacons with default values that you can reprogram using an app they provide. Consult the documentation of the vendor to obtain the characteristics of your iBeacons.
Start sending iBeacon notifications¶
Before you can receive location based beacon notifications you have to enter the proximityUUID that is shared between all your iBeacons. You can enter multiple proximityUUIDs in our dashboard, go to Locations and click on Beacon details. You can add new Beacon details there. You only have to enter these details once.
After that, iBeacons can be added just like geofences, except that you specify a majorId and optionally a minorId. You can enter that by going to Locations and under Beacons tab. When creating a new beacon, you choose a proximityUUID from the ones created in the previous step, specify a majorId, radius and optionally a minorId.
Testing with iBeacons¶
You can order iBeacons from various companies or you can turn an iPhone (4S and up) or an iPad into an iBeacon. How to turn your device into an iBeacon you can read here: How to test with an iPhone/iPad. You cannot test the receiving of notifications on an iPhone/iPad that is used as a beacon. So if you want to test with an iPhone/iPad as iBeacon, you need at least two devices.
Note that it may take some time before a notification entered in our dashboard is sent to the device.
A quick way to trigger notifications on your iPhone is to go to your lock screen. iOS will then perform an extra check to determine whether an iBeacon is in range.
Starting from version 2.0 of our library, it is no longer required to follow extra steps to have beacon support. Beacon support is enabled by default.
Please note that in order to receive iBeacon notifications, Android devices have to run on Android 4.3 or higher and have Bluetooth low-energy support.