Apple and IBM's First Business Apps Are Here and They Can Track Your iPhone in Shops

By Matt Hill on at

Remember Apple and IBM's surprising partnership back in summer, with the aim seemingly to a) get more iPhones in the hands of suits and b) stop IBM making awkwardly designed business services? Well, the first fruits of their big data-toting apps are live now and they're pretty damn integrated.

One of the first, in fact, Sales Assist, allows ever-helpful clothes-shop staff to not just browse the stock room from their device or suggest attire based on your previous error-strewn purchases, but also monitor iPhone-wielding customers entering and leaving using Apple's patented iBeacon positioning and proximity system if they wish – to improve service, of course.

Yes, soon every sales assistant will be calling you by your first name and wafting an iPad in your face while they serve you, not just ones that have been overhauled by Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA. It's a bit Minority Report, but hey, the high street needed a big kick up the arse on the service front anyway. It will sure beat waving and shouting for a mardy-faced teenager to come over and get you a matching shoe, anyway.

The punchily titled IBM MobileFirst for iOS range of made-for-business apps works with iPhone and iPad, and will eventually run to over 100 different uses, with areas of focus including banking, travel, retail, insurance, telecoms and "Government".

Right now, though, the analytic-linked, secure-environment offerings include VIP business travel companion Passenger+ (above), client-focused financial data analyser Advise & Grow and engineer assistant Expert Tech, which offers real-time diagnostics and tutorials. If you like the sound of any of that, get your IT guy to get on to IBM.