By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
San Francisco – The Android OS will soon join the iOS and BlackBerry 10 operating systems in providing native software support for Bluetooth Smart Ready technology, Google announced here at its developers conference.
The development could further boost demand for the growing array of low-power Bluetooth Smart accessories that wirelessly connect to tablets and smartphones. The accessories include keyboards, smart-home devices, and personal sports and health products.
Tablets and smartphones using the coming Android version will be given the Bluetooth Smart Ready designation if they also incorporate a dual-mode Bluetooth chip that combines Bluetooth 4.0’s low-energy technology with traditional Bluetooth technology, which streams data, voice, and music.
Android will include native support for the low-energy technology in the “coming months,” the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said.
Although Android hasn’t natively supported Bluetooth Smart Ready technology in the past, select Android smartphone suppliers nonetheless have implemented it in select handsets, including Samsung in its Galaxy models starting with the SIII.
Bluetooth Smart Ready Android devices will be able to “seamlessly connect with the billions of Bluetooth devices in use today and the exploding new market of Bluetooth Smart appcessories,” said Suke Jawanda, the Bluetooth SIG’s CMO.
Battery-operated Bluetooth Smart peripherals include such devices as wireless keyboards and mice, strap-on heart-rate sensors, home-security sensors, and home thermostat controllers. Their low-energy Bluetooth technology extends battery life by more than 10 times compared to battery-operated devices incorporating higher power Bluetooth, the SIG said. A device that runs for six to seven months on two AA batteries, for example, will run six to eight years when using Bluetooth Smart. Other devices can be reduced in size by incorporating lower power button-cell batteries instead of AA batteries, the Bluetooth SIG has said.
Such Bluetooth Smart peripherals as body sensors send data to Smart-Ready PCs, smartphones and tablets for display on their screens.
For now, the Microsoft Windows 8 OS offers native support for Bluetooth Smart Ready, but Windows Phone 8 doesn’t. A SIG spokesperson, however, said this may be something we hear out of Microsoft Build in June.”
Brands offering products with the low-energy profile include Apple, Nike, Samsung, Panasonic, Nintendo, Sony and Ford. Apple’s products include iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and the third- and fourth-generation iPads. Apple MacBooks and MacMinis launched since 2011 also incorporate the technology.
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