Beacons are Bluetooth services that run on your phone to provide many features. At the time, they can appear useful; however, there is one significant downside to these, and that is they drain your battery quickly.
One other thing that many mobile devices users are unaware of is that this beacon scanning works when Bluetooth is enabled, yet you can turn off Bluetooth. The phone still collects location-related data and transmits this to Google.
The application does this by sending Google, among many other items, the unique identifier codes of Bluetooth broadcasting devices the smartphone connects to.
You can learn more about Bluetooth, smart communications, and the advertising beacons we walk past every day in our guide.
What Does Beacon Manager Do?
When you see a beacon manager app or cloud service, it allows marketing firms and business owners to manage fleets of beacons.
Such Bluetooth low energy Beacons are transmitters that send information or advertising data to smartphones or other mobile devices inside a range from the transmitter.
What is the Use of Beacon in Android?
Google Beacon takes the information passed by the Bluetooth LE scans, which is relayed to the transmitters. Although often used to pass information, Google Beacon can use this information to build up a profile of places you visit that have the Beacon technology in place.
You can see other innocent areas are smart bus stops or in stores that send discount or promo info. WiFi beaconing can also pass information when you appear to be out of range, and thus also means you can be tracked when you least expect it.
What is the Function of a Beacon?
Bluetooth Beacons are low-cost hardware transmitters, which are among a class of Bluetooth low energy devices.
It runs on top of Eddystone, the new beacon format developed by Google. Using the Eddystone protocol, Google has built the Google Nearby service that allows Android users to receive beacon notifications without using any compatible app.
What is Beacon App?
It is good to fully understand what is involved with a beacon manager app and Bluetooth technology to see how it can affect you in good ways and bad.
Beacon technology has come far since its debut in 2013 by Apple and shows no sign of slowing down. The technology has plenty of potentials and will continue to contribute to marketing in the coming years.
What Is Beacon Technology?
Beacons are small, wireless transmitters that use low-energy Bluetooth technology and send signals to smart devices nearby. You will discover these are among the latest location technology advancements that allow for proximity marketing.
This means you can have advanced notifications direct to your phone, but the advertisers know where you are.
How Beacons Work
Each beacon device has a CPU, radio, and batteries. What it does is continually send the identifiers. A smartphone also carries out a Bluetooth LE scan, which recognizes these identifiers unique to a particular beacon.
When the beacon and phone connect, the beacon can carry out any function it’s programmed to perform. Bluetooth states the beacon technology is to be the basis of the Internet of Things.
Benefits of Beacon Technology?
The technology offers lots of applications and lots of potential uses and will increase as the technology continues to mature.
Improved Offline Google Ads
Connecting signals of a beacon to a Google Ads account helps gather gain insight into the user’s offline activity and help track in-store visits. Doing so means you can serve Google ads; you may link this to the numbers of users who walk in the store.
A typical instance could be:
- A user searches for “smart suit”
- A Google search ad is presented to them
- The user clicks the search ad, checks the product, and then stops using their smartphone.
- If the user decides to try on the suit before purchase, they may visit your store.
- As they enter the store, their phone picks up an identifier broadcast from your shop’s beacon.
- The beacon spots the same phone used in the search ad links the data to your Google Ads account, and records it as a “store visit.”
It was this feature that attracted many. Out-of-store marketing hasn’t had the impact that was expected. With the investment, it could take off.
Information for potential customers is transmitted directly to receptive devices within the range of a beacon.
It can be simple to say they are close to your store, or complex such as sending messages of promos related to discounts, or more. Brands can also push individual product information using your in-store beacons.
The beauty of this location-based technology is you can personalize out-of-store marketing for potential foot traffic.
While there has been some debate of the accuracy beacons offer, Bluetooth technology does offer an improvement compared to other proximity technologies such as GPS and WiFi.
Since beacons are inexpensive and can be placed in any area people carrying mobile phones walk, the use of this technology is expected to increase significantly.
Downsides of Bluetooth Beacons
With any new technology, there are always downsides, and most times, this comes to consumers.
Here are a couple of downsides smartphone users can face with Google beacon or other beacon technology, with or without an app installed.
Privacy Risks with Beacons
The use of beacons has at least two privacy risks, and you will discover these are unlawful surveillance and the risk of receiving targeted ads.
The use of mass surveillance continues to be an issue, and now with location data submitted by beacons, it can help anyone who wants to track individuals.
Although intended for marketing, the risks are there, and you might find the governments using them, or there are software applications that are not legitimate.
Malware programs provide criminals with information about an individual’s location.
As a result, many malware programs are detected since the introduction of Bluetooth low energy beacons (BLE) has ballooned. Criminals may use location data to identify user behaviour patterns.
Receiving Targeted Ads
The majority of users accept the terms and conditions of apps on most devices without reading them. You may be surprised how many of these state that “You agree that we may collect location data from beacons.
You agree that we may pass the collected location data to third parties who may then regularly send communications to you and provide information offers and services that may be of interest to you.”
As soon as you accept such a provision, you are open to advertisers who use Eddystone technology to send you notification messages or ads with or without an application. You can discover these ads are tailored to the location of the user.
Reducing Privacy Risks from Beacon Signals
On a mobile phone, it should be clear that beacons will collect location data.
Users of mobile phones should also take it into their hands to reduce this impact. Installing up-to-date anti-malware software, avoiding installing suspicious apps, and learning how to avoid being tracked by their cell phone.
Users can avoid being tracked in most instances by disabling Bluetooth devices, although Eddystone or Android it has been found can still transmit back to Google.
While Google can get a notification of where you are, even with Bluetooth disabled and the beacon mobile scan picking up your steps, there is one way you can help mask your location from all other Google services without deleting your registered Google account.
Installing a VPN on your device can do an outstanding job of hiding you from the internet and prying eyes. On public WiFi, it can show you as being in a different country. You can even have a hacker nearby, and they won’t tell your device is in their proximity no matter how hard they try.
The system does this as it takes your IP address and gives you a different one from another server.
You will find there are VPN apps for many mobile devices such as Android and iOS. Using these, make sure anything you do online or any messages you send over the internet are encrypted and can’t be read by anyone trying to spy on you.
It appears there isn’t going to be any reduction in the use of Eddystone. You may still be shown to be in the proximity of a store.
Installing a VPN is the first step you can take to make it harder for companies and criminals to watch what you’re doing as you go about your daily activities.
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Many top VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can check out all the security features you may need, and all risk-free.