The Beacon War – Know what is a iBeacon, a Eddystone and a AltBeacon


Mobiles are becoming an integral part of the human being system as it helps in many ways. Nowadays, people spend most of their time indoor because of the smartphone and related gadgets. But the indoor spaces are blocking the signals making tough to locate devices via GPS. This is the place where beacons play a life-saving role.

Everyone loves beacon but why?

Powered by a small battery, Beacons are tiny devices that use the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to transmit messages to mobile devices with a short distance or proximity of the beacon. Its usage is being widely adopted in almost every industry in which the retailers are using it to the core to send discounts to their customer when they enter the proximity range. Many large stores and even malls are using beacons to help the customers with in-store maps to helps them navigate easily inside the store. In simple words, beacon technology connects the physical world to the digital. For deploying a beacon, there are nearly three parts namely:

  • Beacon hardware – a tiny Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transponders
  • Web application – an application with required information which connects the beacons and the content
  • Mobile application – A iOS or an Android application that connects to the beacon

Beacons has different types of specification, and the major are:

  • iBeacon
  • Eddystone
  • AtlBeacon

What is an iBeacon?

Apple Inc. has always been an innovator in bringing new technologies to the market and the same happened with Beacon. It introduced a new beacon specification called as the iBeacon for the implementation of BLE wireless technology. It is used to create a location based information sharing system that helps industry share relevant information with their esteemed customers. iBeacon specification works on devices iOS or later i.e. iPhone 4s or later, iPad 3rd generation or later, iPad Mini and iPod Touch 5th generation or later. It is also compatible with devices running on Android 4.3 or later.

Every information shared through the iBeacon specification contains the following three:

  • UUID
  • Major ID
  • Minor ID

Learn More: iBeacon – A device that helps nearby people with required information

What is Eddystone?

How will the search giant be quite when they see their competitor is playing around the future technology? Google came out with its very own beacon profile called as the Eddystone. So, what is an Eddystone? It is a beacon specification that functions as same as what an iBeacon does. The real difference is that it is open source and cross platform. The Eddystone versioned profile has many frame types like:

  • Eddystone-UID
  • Eddystone-URL
  • Eddystone-TLM

It is commonly referred as the Google’s alternative to Apple’s iBeacon. Eddystone is both Android and iOS compatible, and it connects the real world and the beacons.

Learn More: Google Beacon “Eddystone” – The Lighthouse of Your Business

What is AltBeacon?

A couple of years back, Radius Network launched a new standard for beacon called as the AltBeacon which is becoming as the de facto standards for the developers as it gives complete freedom to develop apps for the proximity beacons. Since AltBeacon is an open specification, it can be used to unleash its potential across various platforms from Android, iOS, Windows, etc. The CEO, Marc Wallace said,

AltBeacon is released under creative commons (CC) license. It does the following two things that are has attracted many:

  1. It can be used to define a robust specification for device transmission.
  2. It has a suite of tools that can be used to develop application that listens to beacons.

So, what is the difference between the three specifications?

As said earlier, beacons are transmitters that broadcast messages in intervals to the nearby smart devices within its proximity. The primary difference between the three are as follows:

  • AltBeacons and the iBeacons offer mobile apps the space to listen to the signals from the beacon devices.
  • The major advantage of the AltBeacon is that it can have different manufacturer IDs and beacon codes. But, the iBeacons broadcast only one type of data and a unique ID number.
  • iBeacons are native only for the iOS but compatible for both iOS and Android. Whereas the Eddystone is native for both Android and iOS.
  • With one byte of reserved data at the end, the AltBeacon holds specific manufacturer information in it.
  • Eddystone broadcasts three different types of packets: Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL, and Eddystone TLM which helps to transfer any data.

Read More: A Beautifully Refreshing perspective about iBeacons in retail industry

Beacons are revolutionizing every industry especially the retail market where the retailers are using these tiny devices to grow their business. It is considered to be the first step towards the Internet of Things (IoT). Mobile application development industry is leveraging to adopt to the beacons market making the beacon war more competitive.