iOS 7 APIs

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AirDrop

AirDrop, which has been in OS X since Lion, is now available for iOS. Apple has made it easy for developers to add AirDrop support to their app. There will be a whole new generation of apps allowing users to share between their contacts. Apps could allow you to do things like create virtual pets and share them with your friends. While it has always been possible to enable sharing in apps, now it is even easier. Expect to see share sheets in many apps shortly after iOS 7 is released.

iBeacons

iBeacons are a microlocation technology. They use the Bluetooth Low Energy profile to access location data. These beacons, which can be stationed anywhere, transmit information to your iOS device, wirelessly. The applications for this technology include trail markers, museum exhibits, and in-store product displays. I also expect this to be used in a peer-to-peer way, for example, to find single people in a bar or night club. Another innovative use would be to help locate products in stores. It would be great if Costco added this functionality, along with a shopping list, to their iOS app. As you walk through the store, your iPhone could indicate when you are near a product on your shopping list. Of course, with the limited range of Bluetooth, iBeacons are only useful within approximately 30 feet.

This has many applications for the enterprise. Workers can use this to locate parts or find their way in large corporate campuses, like Apple’s mothership.

Apple also acquired WiFiSlam, a company that specializes in indoor location technology. While this might not be a direct relative of iBeacons, it shows how serious Apple is about pinpointing users’ locations. A combination of these technologies can yield powerful results. For the privacy minded, Apple has always enabled the user to turn off these location services. I expect more privacy features in iOS 7.

Maps

The furor over Maps has died down. Having used the app extensively in the SF Bay Area, I find it to be quite good. In fact, I never had a bad experience using it, from day one. Even Consumer Reports called the app “competent”. Much of the brouhaha was generated from the blogosphere. There’s a whole subculture dedicated to trashing anything Apple does. Internet publishers cater to this culture, because it gets page views. Most of these people have never even used Maps.

iOS 7 allows third-party developers to use Maps in their own apps. Apps will be able to give you directions and show images and 3D views of cities. This will be used in many apps, providing users with directions. Public transit, bars, restaurants, stores, and municipalities can now integrate Maps into their apps. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a real-life role-playing game that integrated Maps? (continue…)

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