The walls have eyes

This new development from Apple, as told by the Register, will surely be followed by others seeking to harvest – and use – as much customer data as they can:

Apple has switched on its controversial iBeacon snooping system across 254 US stores.

The fruity firm’s iSpy network allows Apple to watch fanbois as they walk around an Apple store and then send them various messages depending on where they are in the shop.

This might come in handy when visiting an Apple store, for instance, which is offering the latest iStuff. Glance in its direction or wander past and your iPhone will suddenly spring to life, filled with messages about products you haven’t bought yet.

Apple’s iBeacon transmitters use Bluetooth to work out customers’ location, because GPS doesn’t work as well indoors. This functionality was quietly snuck into iOS 7.

To take part all you need to do is download the Apple Store app and agree to let it track your location.

Apple claimed iBeacon offers “a whole new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum, or product displays in stores”.

What that really means is that whenever you visit somewhere armed with iBeacon transmitters, your iPhone will bombard you with unwanted messages.

Luckily, there’s a way to avoid the all-seeing eye of Cupertino: just switch off location services and you can go about your shopping trip without being surveilled.

According to AP, the flagship store on Fifth Avenue, New York City, was first to switch on its system on Friday and by this point every fruity outlet will have gone live.

At least you can easily turn this one off. (And Android users may well be smiling broadly as they read this.)

Perhaps there will be efforts made by premium shopping malls to harness this, offering shoppers special offers as they get close to certain shops (or as they get further away?) or even just telling people what shops are round the corner, up a level, down a level, and so on.

Users of Waze and other such software are used to targeted advertising which seems destined to intrude more and more. So much so, that at times in the future, you may want to disconnect from the wired world.