Hands on guide to building a native JavaScript iBeacon app using Cordova

Mikael KindborgBlogs, Tutorials

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Kontakt.io beaconNew: Updated for Evothings Studio 2.0. This tutorial shows how to create and build a native iBeacon app written in JavaScript using the Apache Cordova build system. The example app shows how to to range beacons and monitor region enter/exit events. We also explain how to use background notifications on iOS and Android.

The Cordova iBeacon example app

The example code for this tutorial is available for download on GitHub. The app runs on both iOS and Android.

When the app is in the foreground it displays the nearest ranged beacon and a list of region enter/exit events. When the app is running in the background, it displays region enter/exit events as notifications.


The app displays data for the nearest beacon and a list of region enter/exit events.


Notifications for region enter/exit events are shown when the app is in the background.

Overview of iBeacon ranging and monitoring

For monitoring beacons the plugin cordova-plugin-ibeacon is used.

Ranging and monitoring are two important concepts when developing beacon apps.

Ranging continuously displays all beacons found and is active when an app is in the foreground, but not in the background.

Monitoring only generates events when a region is entered or exited, and works both when the app is in the foreground and in the background.

A region consists of a beacon UUID, and optional major and minor values. It is common that many beacons share the same UUID. All three values uniquely identify a beacon. You can scan more broadly by specifying only the UUID, or only UUID and major value.

Here is a code snippet that creates a region and starts monitoring and ranging that region:

// Create a region object.
var beaconRegion = new cordova.plugins.locationManager.BeaconRegion(

// Start ranging.

// Start monitoring.

Ranging and monitoring events will be delivered to delegate functions. Check out the source code in the file www/app.js for an example of how to set up delegate functions for monitoring and ranging.

For documentation and code examples, visit the cordova-plugin-ibeacon GitHub page.

How background notifications work

Background notifications are displayed using the plugin cordova-plugin-local-notifications.

It is very easy to display a notification:

    id: 1,
    title: 'Beacon in range',
    text: 'Detected a beacon, tap here to open app.'

New notifications will replace any previous notification with the same id. Use an id counter to display a sequence of notifications. Check out the code in file www/app.js for how this is done.

Further documentation is found on the GitHub Wiki for the notification plugin.

Example project setup

The example project on GitHub consists of a “bare” Cordova project with some minimal settings. What you need to do to build the app is to add plugins and platforms (iOS and/or Android). Plugins and native platform files can take up quite some space, and are therefore not included in the GitHub repo. Below you will learn how to add them.

HTML and JavaScript code files are found in the www folder. This is the standard location for Cordova application files.

The file www/index.html contains the UI elements of the app. File www/app.js contains all the JavaScript code for the application. Folder www/libs contains JavaScript libraries used by the app. The folder www/ui contains CSS-files used by Evothings example apps. You can replace the CSS files with your own UI styling or use a JavaScript UI framework to get the desired look and feel.

Note that the JavaScript library files for the Cordova plugins are implicitly included with cordova.js in www/index.html. The Cordova JavaScript files are not part of the application code in folder www, instead they are provided by the plugins and are automatically added to the app when it is built.

What you need to modify before the app will work

Open file www/app.js and edit the variables mRegions and mRegionData to contain the UUIDs and major/minor values of your beacons.

Install Cordova

To build native apps you must install both Cordova and Xcode and/or Android SDK depending on which platforms you wish to build for. The Cordova Starter Guide helps you with the installation process.

How the Cordova project was created

The following steps have already been performed for the project on GitHub. If you create your Cordova project from scratch, you can use these steps to set up your project.

First the project was created with this command:

create cordova-ibeacon com.evothings.cordovaibeacon iBeacon

Then this line was added to the config.xml file to prevent the view to bounce on scrolling:

<preference name="DisallowOverscroll" value="true" />

Finally the files in folder www were deleted and replaced by the example app files.

Cordova commands to build the app

To build the app you must have cordova installed (see above).

Follow these steps to install plugins and build the app.

Open a command window and go to the app folder, e.g.:

cd cordova-ibeacon/

Add plugins (this step is done once):

cordova plugin add https://github.com/evothings/cordova-plugin-ibeacon#3.3.2
cordova plugin add https://github.com/katzer/cordova-plugin-local-notifications#0.8.4

Note that specific versions of the plugins are added. This is handy to ensure you get a tested version of the plugin. Check the respective plugin repo on GitHub for the current versions and use them in your project.

Next add the mobile platforms you want to use.

Add platform ios if you wish to build for iPhone and iPad (done once):

cordova platform add ios

Add platform android if you wish to build apps for Android devices (done once):

cordova platform add android

Build the app for the desired platform(s) (do this after each code update):

cordova build ios
cordova build android

For iOS open the Xcode project in folder platforms/ios to deploy and run the app.

For Android install the app using the adb command (name of APK-file may very depending on the Cordova version used):

adb install -r platforms/android/build/outputs/apk/android-debug.apk

Finalising the build

To get the app ready for publication on the app stores you also want to include custom icons and launch images.

Use Evothings Studio for a fast workflow

Use Evothings Studio to develop Cordova apps with live-reload-on-save.

Simply install the Evothings Viewer app on your mobile phones/tablet. Then drag index.html into the Workbench project list and click RUN. Now live reload is enabled. Edit a code file in your project (use your favourite text editor) and press save the file. The app now automatically reloads on connected devices.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • Download and run Evothings Workbench on your computer.
  • Install Evothings Viewer on your mobile phone/tablet (get it from Google Play or Apple App Store).
  • Drag and drop the file index.html to the Workbench project list.
  • Click RUN in the Workbench window. You now have live reload
    enabled, just save the code in your editor and the app reloads.

If your app uses Cordova plugins not included in Evothings Viewer you can build a customised version. Find out how to do this on the Evothings Viewer GitHub page.
Plugins bundled with Evothings Viewer are listed in package.json. Update this file to add/remove plugins, then build the Viewer. Use your custom Viewer with Evothings Workbench and enjoy a fast workflow.

Learn more

To learn more read these articles and tutorials:

It is easy to get started

Download Evothings Studio and get going right away with creating awesome beacon applications!