Native support for the latest Bluetooth technology will mean that Android device owners will finally be able to sync and connect their phones with virtually any Bluetooth product, from keyboards and headphones to activity trackers and smart watches.
It might have been one of the smaller announcements to come out of Google's I/O developer conference and one that could have been easily lost among news of music streaming services and the ability to send money as an email attachment, but support for Bluetooth Smart Ready and Bluetooth Smart devices means that Android phones with a dual-mode Bluetooth v4.0 chip will finally be able to connect and work with devices like the Pebble smartwatch and the FitBit Flex activity tracker and use their supporting apps.
A number of high-end Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy SIV and the HTC One already have the chip needed to support the latest Bluetooth innovations, but until now, the Android operating system the phones run on wasn't able to collect or use the data that devices like activity trackers produce and therefore companies that make these devices couldn't write supporting apps for potential Android customers.
"Working with the big OS providers to offer native support for Bluetooth Smart Ready has been a major initiative within the Bluetooth SIG -- we're thrilled to welcome Android to the family," said Suke Jawanda, CMO of the Bluetooth SIG, the organization that safeguards Bluetooth technology and its application. "It's the hardware and software support that enables Bluetooth Smart Ready devices to seamlessly connect with the billions of Bluetooth devices in use today, and the exploding new market of Bluetooth Smart appcessories. With today's announcement, Google joins Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry in providing native software support which is great news for phone and tablet manufacturers, application developers and ultimately, consumers who count on Bluetooth to connect more of their technology."
Bluetooth is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that 10 years ago was confined almost exclusively to use in hands-free mobile phone headsets. But as the technology has developed and its energy efficiency has increased, it has become the most effective way of linking and tethering n ever-growing number of devices to each other -- whether it be a smartphone to a set of headphones or a computer to a stereo speaker system or wireless mouse.
"The real winner here is the consumer," adds Jawanda. "Bluetooth is truly the people's technology -- it is recognized, trusted, and can already be found in the end user's pocket. Additionally, it is the only wireless technology to offer the ultra low power consumption and ubiquity needed to bring connectivity to the millions of appcessories coming to market. The Bluetooth Smart products we are going to see in the coming months are going to make life better, give more insight, and enable us all to make more informed decisions."
A full list of smartphones, computers and tablets that have the dual-mode Bluetooth v4.0 chip can be found on the Bluetooth SIG website, as can a list of all Bluetooth Smart devices.