Long story short - yes, but in a very limited capacity. Beacons are not an end solution that can be purchased and deployed without any code. They need to be connected to a mobile app which means either building your own iOS/Android app or using one of the available third-party platforms.
There used to be a third method available that would allow you to send silent notifications, in the form of URLs, to passers-by. That service, known as Google Nearby Notifications, has since been discontinued and is no longer available. As a result, end users need to have an app installed to be able to interact with beacons. This doesn't apply just to Estimote beacons, but to any other beacons and similar devices available on the market.
The approach we currently recommend is to build your own mobile app, as it gives you the flexibility to create exactly the kind of solution you need.
In this article, we'll cover both approaches so that you can decide which works best for you!
Table of contents:
- Sending notifications with an app
- Content Management Systems
- What should you choose?
Sending notifications with an app
Most proximity campaigns rely on notifications pushed to a user's smartphone or tablet. These can involve informing clients about promotions, educating museum visitors about nearby objects, or pushing content about a trade show in strategic places.
In-app notifications, triggered by entering or exiting a beacon's range, are the only way to send push notifications to users' phones. Whether the app is open or not (even if it's manually killed), a notification will show up on the screen once a user enters (or leaves) a beacon's range. You can also set certain conditions for triggering notifications — e.g. to display a specific advertisement only to females under 30 (given they provide these kinds of details within the app) or to people who have previously visited a specific space (and interacted with the beacon placed there).
The customization options are almost unlimited. In order to receive notifications, users will need to enable Bluetooth and mobile data connection on their device. We’ve built a Proximity SDK specifically for this use case, and have app templates available in the Cloud to make it easier than ever to hit the ground running.
Using ready-made software and services
If you’re really into the idea of working with an app but aren’t keen on starting from scratch, check this out! We have friends in high places here at Estimote and have developed some fantastic partnerships over the years. Plenty of dedicated and brilliant people have already built beacon-friendly platforms that allow you to easily integrate beacons into your business. They're available for a fixed monthly/annual fee and they'll get your apps up and running in no time. In some cases, you'll even have the support of a team of experts!)
Cuseum — create a museum app and engage your visitors (individual pricing)
CrowdCompass — create great experiences for your event visitors (individual pricing)
Robin — book meeting rooms in your office (from $99/month)
Beecon — control your home and surroundings from an app ($8.99 one-time fee)
General purpose CMSes [Content Management Systems]: Create native apps for Android and iOS without the need to hire a developer!
Bleesk — easily create proximity campaigns of any kind for both Android and iOS (from $15/month)
PencilCase — allows you to take your designs and turn them into ready iOS app (from $25 monthly)
Rover — integrate your existing app with beacons and deploy updates from the browser (from $350 monthly)
The above list is not exclusive! There are many other tools available online that will work with Estimote Beacons. When in doubt, reach out to those developers to verify their compatibility. All our beacons can broadcast standard iBeacon packets that can be received and interpreted by thousands of mobile applications available online.
Which should you choose?
After reviewing all the options, you may still be wondering which route to take. Here's what our team suggests:
Go with your own app if:
- you need customization and flexibility
- you have access to developers or the resources to hire someone to build a solution for you
- you need the ability to scale your solution and implement the new features in the future
- you didn't find a suitable, 3rd-party tool
Go with a readymade solution or CMS if:
- you don't have developers and expertise on how to build your own app
- you're short on time and need to have a live app running soon
- you found the features that work for your use case
We certainly hope the comparisons in this article helped you figure out which solution will work best for you. If you're still not sure, consider trying each of them and evaluating them down the road. If we can help with any advice or troubleshooting, give us a shout!