Apple Raises the Bluetooth Smart Ready Bar…Again

Bluetooth® was everywhere at WWDC 2013 this week. This was Apple’s third iteration of Bluetooth Smart Ready. Apple methodically turned virtually every iOS and OS X device into a Bluetooth Smart Ready hub over the past 18 months and bolstered the Smart Ready feature set every year. More easily than ever, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macs are “ready” to connect with the more than 250 million Bluetooth Smart appcessories hitting the streets this year, and the nearly one billion ABI Research predicts will ship in 2016.

Providing native HID (Human Interface Devices—e.g. mice, keyboards, and game controllers) over GATT profile support means OEMs can commercialize ultra-efficient Bluetooth Smart devices that last years without changing batteries. Apple is using Bluetooth Smart technology to allow AirDrop users to discover and connect devices for file sharing. Since Bluetooth is such a big part of Apple’s wireless feature set, Apple gave consumers a quick and easy way to get to their Bluetooth settings through Control Center.

I think the two most interesting Bluetooth related features Apple introduced this week were inclusion in the Apple Notification Center Service (ANCS) and the Preservation and Restoration service. ANCS pushes notifications from the iOS device to the Bluetooth Smart peripheral. This sets the table for some incredible innovation developers can bring to market. For example, 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.

Think of the possibilities Preservation and Restoration now opens up for the Apple ecosystem, especially for long-term use cases in health and wellness. I would no longer need to fire up an app and hit a button on my fitness tracker to sync with my phone. The fitness tracker sends the data to the app in real time. This is particularly interesting when you consider remote monitoring use cases in the medical industry. 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.

A lot of this is deeper plumbing level innovation in the OS empowers developers to create new use cases to make life better for consumers—from the novel to the life-saving and everything in between. Coupled with the native Bluetooth Smart Ready support Android announced at I/O, you can see what is driving developers to create the hundreds of millions of diverse and innovative Bluetooth Smart appcessories that are fueling the current Bluetooth Boom. As “OS Season” continues, I’m looking forward to sharing more Bluetooth Smart Ready innovation from Microsoft Build later this month.

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