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With iWatch on the horizon, Apple deepens Bluetooth integration in iOS and OS X

With iWatch on the horizon

Not all of Apple’s announcements at WWDC gained as much traction as the iOS redesign and the OS X Mavericks launch. But the company’s new implementation of Bluetooth in their software has earned the praise of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).

The SIG even issued a press release extolling the new implementation by Apple. “Apple announced unprecedented integration of Bluetooth technology into its operating systems – a move that sets the bar for Bluetooth integration and benefits developers by simplifying the creation of apps and products relying on Bluetooth connectivity,” the press release gushes. What this means is iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks will natively support the latest version of the Human Interface Device (HID) profile for Bluetooth Smart. You may know this as Air Drop, a new version of which was shown at WWDC. Air Drop uses Bluetooth Smart technology to securely discover and connect devices for file sharing.

Bluetooth Smart in iOS 7 expands the possible uses of the age-old wireless tech

Bluetooth Smart in iOS 7 expands the possible uses of the age-old wireless tech

Moreover, Bluetooth Smart also allows accessories to interact with Apple’s Notification Center Service, and the application state Preservation and Restoration services. A native implementation of the latest HID profile also means consumers can expect more power-efficient Bluetooth Smart accessories like gaming controllers and keyboards.

More importantly, the entire gamut of the new Bluetooth Smart profiles will help developers create apps and accessories that can communicate with Apple devices without the need for user intervention. Apps will be able to run reliably in the background and update their status silently. The SIG says, “This enables a Bluetooth Smart device like a wearable health monitor to send data to an application on an iPhone or iPad without the user having to press any buttons or open up the application.

Extending this example further to devices with other applications, we can see how this can work for the forthcoming iWatch, which is Apple’s push into the wearables market. Much of the iWatch speculation has revolved around how it will present users with seamless integration for sports and fitness apps with regards to alerts and achievements, notifications for their voice and text communications, and the ability to control music and video playback. The new Bluetooth Smart integration will enable many of this and with the current implementation, users will not need to sync both the iWatch and their iPhone or iPad for each app.

An iWatch concept render (Image credit: Antonio De Rosa/ADR Studio)

An iWatch concept render

Suke Juwanda, CMO, Bluetooth SIG, gave this example on the group’s blog: “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.

Developers looking to use the Bluetooth enhancements in iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks can get started with the Bluetooth Application Accelerator. So it looks like Apple is already urging developers to get their apps ready for deployment in iWatch.