iOS 7 Improves Bluetooth Support For Smarwatches And Other Devices
You have probably heard of Pebble’s successful Kickstarter campaign. If not, check it out here. Pebble is an E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android and can it be considered to be the first smartwatch that manages to gain worldwide popularity. Pebble is compatible with Apple’s iOS, however using the smartwatch with an iOS smartphone is not as simple and intuitive as it could be. That is about to change though, as Apple will improve the recently announced next version of its mobile OS. The Cupertino giant plans to improve Bluetooth support in iOS 7 (and OS X Mavericks); Bluetooth is very important for smartwatches like Pebble, for fitness trackers, medical devices and other similar products, as that is the main method that they use to communicate with iOS and Android devices.
Suke Jawanda, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Bluetooth SIG, recently posted on the official Bluetooth blog about some of these changes. One of the first things he mentioned is that Bluetooth Smart will be a very important part of AirDrop (a feature in the company’s next iOS iteration that will let you transfer files very easy and quickly). A very important Bluetooth improvement in iOS 7 will be the inclusion of Bluetooth in the Apple Notification Center Service (ANCS). This will make the process of sending push notifications to wearable devices such as smartwatches or fitness trackers more easier for the developer. This can pave the way for innovation; for example Suke Jawanda outlines this possible use of the Apple Notification Center Service: “[…] my favorite sports app will seamlessly push an alert to my Bluetooth Smart watch every time my beloved Seattle Seahawks score a touchdown. This comes in handy if I?m having a rare dinner date night with my wife without the kids. My watch will buzz once for a field goal or twice for a touchdown and discretely flash the score on the screen without me pulling out my phone. This could be a marriage saver“. Of course, innovation is good but the main advantage will be simplicity. Pebble currently had to come up with a workaround for iOS 6, but with improved Bluetooth support in iOS 7 it will be far more easier for both developers and users; users especially won’t need to go through many settings and workarounds to make their smartwatch function properly with iOS 6 devices.
Another very important Bluetooth improvement is the fact that it will be integrated in the iOS? Preservation and Restoration service. You won’t have to worry about syncing anymore; your fitness tracker for example, will send data in real time to the iOS 7 app, without you needing to start the app and hit a button on your fitness tracker to sync it with your iOS 7 device. And the app won’t even need to be running. Integration in the Preservation and Restoration service means good news for all the Bluetooth based medical devices that are used in hospitals. It will make it easier for the patients. As Suke Jawanda explains, “The patient wears a Bluetooth Smart medical ?wearable? and the data from it and the app on the phone (and the web service) is exchanged securely in real time without pressing buttons or opening up apps. It just works“.
iOS 7 is set for a Fall 2013 release and that is when we will see if Apple’s promised Bluetooth improvements will live up to the expectations. Given that Android also embraced native Bluetooth Smart Ready support, we could call this period a ‘Bluetooth Boom’, as developers are making “hundreds of millions of diverse and innovative Bluetooth Smart appcessories” as Jawanda remarks. Microsoft will probably make an announcement rgarding Bluetooth Smart Ready at build, later this June