Apple starts iBeacon product certification under 'Made for iPhone' program

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In a push for wider iBeacon adoption, Apple on Tuesday released specification requirements under the "Made for iPhone" program for third-party manufacturers looking to build products incorporating the Bluetooth LE-based technology.

According to Apple's "Made for iPhone" program website, OEMs with products meeting the newly instituted criteria can now ask for iBeacon branding from Apple, opening the door to myriad new implementations, reports BEEKn.

As noted by the publication, the specifics of Apple's iBeacon requirements under the MFi program are currently unknown as part of the vetting process includes the signing of a non-disiclosure agreement. Sources said there are "no surprises" in what Apple is asking of hardware makers and applying for iBeacon branding is reportedly free.

When Apple introduced iBeacon micro-location technology with iOS 7, the company gave smart device users an entirely new way to interact with their environment. Because iBeacon is proximity-based, the system can offer granular and targeted information to passing users via app notifications or in-app content.

Leveraging Bluetooth LE, iBeacons transmitters bring location awareness to compatible devices. For example, if a user is in proximity of a beacon at a grocery store, their iPhone may pull up daily deals or a store map.

After a number of pilot tests, including the Macy's flagship store in New York, Apple rolled out the technology in December at its U.S. retail stores. Tied to the Apple Store iOS app, iBeacon can invoke location-based product messages, the EasyPay function and push out general notifications.

Major League Baseball recently announced successful iBeacon installations at Dodger Stadium and Petco Park, with the hardware serving up ballpark information, points of interest and more. MLB plans to roll out iBeacon tech in over 20 parks before the 2014 season's stateside opener in March.