I can’t tell you how many times over the past 18 months I’ve heard, “When will Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready be natively supported by Android?” I can finally say today is the day. When Google releases the next version of the Android operating system (OS) within the next few months, it will natively support Bluetooth Smart Ready.
There are many winners because of Android’s Smart Ready announcement today—three in particular stand out—Android OEMs, app/appcessory developers, and ultimately consumers. There are dozens, and perhaps even hundreds of OEMs that build Android-enabled phones, tablets, and set-top-boxes, etc. If an OEM uses the latest Android OS and includes a dual-mode Bluetooth chip (with BR/EDR and low energy radios), the product is Bluetooth Smart Ready—able to connect to billions of Bluetooth BR/EDR devices (speakers, cars, mice, keyboards) and billions of Bluetooth Smart appcessories coming to market now.
One of the major initiatives within the Bluetooth SIG is working with the big OS providers to offer native support for Bluetooth Smart Ready—the SIG is thrilled to welcome Android to the family. Apple (iOS and OS X), Microsoft (Windows 8) and Blackberry (BlackBerry 10), and now Google, pushed their chips (pun intended) all in for Bluetooth technology. With the market demand for Bluetooth Smart appcessory devices exploding, developers can expect OS support to keep improving.
I bet Bluetooth Smart app and appcessory developers are jumping for joy. No longer do they need to write to multiple APIs for multiple Bluetooth Smart Ready implementations from various Android OEMs. Now they have a single, native API (Android’s SDK) to write to and connect to millions of devices. They can freely distribute apps through Google Play and when consumers download the app, in the background, the Bluetooth profile updates the software stack on the Android “hub” device so the appcessory can interoperate with the Android hub device. I cannot think of another wireless technology that enables such a simple and scalable way to seamlessly update the software stacks. This is the “plumbing layer” innovation fueling the Bluetooth Smart rocket right now and the real benefit behind native OS support. Apple pioneered it, and Microsoft, BlackBerry and now Google are enabling their massive developer ecosystems to innovate with it.
Consumers are ultimately the biggest winners of all. With the top PC OSs (Windows 8 and Apple OS X), and the top 3 smartphone OSs (Android, Apple iOS, and BlackBerry 10) now all in, consumers can trust Bluetooth to conveniently connect more of their technology. Updateable profiles on Smart Ready hubs means the Bluetooth Smart appcessories they want will “just work” and connect with the Smart Ready hub they already have. The consumer simply downloads the associated app with their Bluetooth Smart appcessory and they are ready to enjoy the connected convenience they expect from Bluetooth.
Today’s announcement truly is an important step for Android, and a giant leap for the Bluetooth Smart ecosystem. With most of the major OSs (come on Windows Phone, join the party!) doing their part to enable hundreds of millions of Bluetooth Smart Ready hubs, the table is set for appcessory players to bring even more innovation to delight, inform, and in the end, make life better for consumers. Stay tuned, this is only the first Bluetooth related announcement during “operating system” season. I’m confident we are going to hear good things at Apple’s WWDC and Microsoft Build in June. Bluetooth keeps getting better and we all win because of it.
Let us know what you think. Are you excited for the next evolution?