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iSPY: Apple Stores switch on iBeacon phone sniff spy system

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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. ®

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