Apple Can Track You in Its Stores, and That Might Not Be Bad

Apple wants to know your exact location.

ByABC News
December 6, 2013, 5:41 PM
Customers test the iPad, April 4, 2012, at the Apple store inside the Confluence shopping centre in Lyon, France.
Customers test the iPad, April 4, 2012, at the Apple store inside the Confluence shopping centre in Lyon, France.
Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 7, 2013 — -- Apple wants to know exactly where you are when you enter an Apple Store.

On Friday Apple launched a new feature in its Apple Store app, which allows Apple to see specifically where you are in its own stores. Those who have the latest version of the app and have enabled the new location features will be sent alerts based on where they are in the retail spaces.

Using its new GPS and Bluetooth-equipped iBeacon devices inside stores, the company will be able to tell whether you are in an Apple Store or not, and then specifically where you are in the store. The point isn't so that Apple can watch you in the store; Apple said it is to serve you better information, including deals in the store.

For instance, if you walk into the store and Apple knows you are eligible for an iPhone upgrade, you might get a push alert about where to go to upgrade. Similarly, if you walk into a store and you have already placed an order online it may give you information on where to pick up your order. Again, users have to enable the service; those who don't want to be bothered or tracked can opt out.

The service will roll out at 254 Apple Stores. According to the Associated Press, which broke the news about the service on Friday. New York's 24-hour Apple Fifth Avenue store has been equipped with 20 iBeacon devices.

Apple Stores, however, are just the start for the iBeacon feature that Apple has baked into iOS 7.

"We're really excited about what iOS developers will be able to do with iBeacon, a technology we introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing to provide apps a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores," Apple said in a statement provided to ABC News.

And it's beyond the store that Apple could have a strong feature on its hands, especially after falling behind in the mapping space, experts say.

Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, told ABC News that the app could help Apple thrive in the "indoor mapping space, to help users locate resources in the real world. This will be a key mobile usage case moving forward."