It all started with the concept of personal use of beacons - turning on/off the lights, receiving notifications after reaching home etc. The first version of Beecon was a very basic beacon app focused on providing user with notifications based on proximity. It has come a long way to the point in which Beecon+ is now.
“We remember how magical it felt (and still feels) when iBeacons were introduced - Compared to GPS geofencing limitations, iBeacons opened doors to a completely new, and until then, unexplored universe of applications of anything between marketing and earthquake shelters apps” said Ricardo Menezes, the creator of Beecon.
Beecon at its early stage was a tool for people to play with iBeacons and understand how they work. The app was one of the first to work with Estimote Beacons and provided users with an easy way to detect, manage and test beacons.
Beecon's first version was based on Estimote SDK, which was later exchanged for iOS' Core Location framework. This deprived the app from some of more advanced functionalities, but at the same time made it more "universal", which logically appealed to more people who wanted an easy beacon experience.
As the app evolved, Beecon started to get shaped around the home automation universe, with beacons as fundamental parts helping to connect and control smart things around the house. At the time, none of home automation apps have been build from the ground with Apple’s proximity technology as the starting point, so Beecon was unique in its simplicity.
Features that empower further possibilities, like GPS support, were later added to grant users with even more value - the app could work even without beacons, making the experience fuller and less demanding for additional purchases. Recently, Beecon also reached the brand new market of Apple Watch apps and became one of the very first automation apps for the newest member of Apple family. That opened the space for voice commands using the watch's voice recognition functionalities.
“The idea is to empower disabled users and allow them to literally talk to their homes just like the Jetsons did. Obviously, not everyone likes to use voice, and the app continues to offer manual or automatic actions with iBeacon or GPS. Having voice control also allows less manual interaction with the iPhone and a simpler usage by those who aren’t tech savvy: think of a grandmother or a wheelchair person, and how they can benefit from voice commands and smart homes if someone gives them Beecon previously configured and ready to use.” said Ricardo Menezes.
The most challenging part for all contextual apps are the technologies involved, which are rather young and can be hard to combine at times. And on the other side there’s of course the user who expects everything to work flawlessly. This means constant testing, bug fixing and discovery of new approaches in order to provide them with the best experience possible, considering the current constraints of each individual technology involved. To do so, the app is under constant improvement as new technologies and products are introduced.
Now, Beecon is gradually introducing support to HomeKit devices, and it already allows users to manually control light bulbs, smart locks and switches that are compatible with Apple's home automation ecosystem.