Future users of Apple’s iOS 8 who walk into a Starbucks will see a small icon for the coffee company appear automatically in the corner of their iPhone lock screens, allowing them to swipe up to quickly open or download the Starbucks app.
The location-aware feature, which already works with a variety of venues and stores, wasn’t announced publicly by Apple when the company unveiled the upcoming version of its mobile operating system earlier this week. But the feature has been getting the attention of developers who are testing iOS 8, as noted by MacRumors and other sites.
Costco is another company whose app can be accessed in the same way. But the functionality isn’t limited to major corporations: One Twitter user noticed that an app for his local train system popped up when he was on the platform waiting for a ride.
In addition to allowing users quick access to apps that are already installed on their phones, the system also offers people the chance to install a relevant app that they don’t already have. That way, someone who visits any of their local Starbucks locations can be prompted to download the app from the App Store.
It’s unclear how the feature works, but Apple could be using all of the potential geolocation tools at its disposal, including GPS and Wi-Fi, as well as any signals from nearby iBeacons, the Bluetooth-powered system that the company enabled in iOS 7.
It’s also not clear yet how an app will get selected to show up on a user’s lock screen, whether Apple will get paid for placing a company’s app in that easy-access location, or if developers will get that placement for free. A Starbucks spokesperson referred us to Apple when we asked for more information about the feature.