New Bluetooth APIs to Foster Growth of BLE Devices

Published on August 19, 2013

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By: Jordan Manser, Marketing Intern

In our recent blog post, Google Staff Discusses Bluetooth Low Energy, we discussed Google’s announcement of upcoming Android support for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. The announcement is fulfilled in Android 4.3 (Jellybean), which recently premiered in Nexus phones and tablets and soon will be available on HTC’s One, Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4, and upgrades for the Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Galaxy Nexus. Phones and tablets with dual-mode Bluetooth v4.0 now qualify as Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, which are compatible with virtually any Bluetooth-enabled product.

To take advantage of Android 4.3 BLE support, an Android 4.3 device must support BT v4.0 in hardware, and the device maker must develop firmware using the new 4.3 BLE APIs. According to Android’s developers site, the APIs enable applications to:

  • Scan for other Bluetooth devices (including BLE devices)
  • Query the local Bluetooth adapter for paired Bluetooth devices
  • Establish RFCOMM channels/sockets
  • Connect to specified sockets on other devices
  • Transfer data to and from other devices

Android 4.3 is not the first popular operating system version with BLE support. Apple has supported a full BLE API (and BLE hardware) in its devices since iPhone 4S (October 2011). Additionally, Windows 8 has native BLE support, and even Blackberry recently announced a BLE API for the 10 series. The millions of smartphones and tablets with BLE support are targets for BLE connections from fitness sensors, thermometers, pedometers, heart rate monitors, and many other devices.  A growing number of device makers are considering the Laird BL600 Series for the sensor end of a BLE application.