Bluetooth Low Energy for Android Is Here!

Lianne Kersey, Marketing Manager
Lianne Kersey, Marketing Manager

Android users and developers can now unite and rejoice! Google has released a new update to the Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.3. In this update lies support providing fantastic functionality opportunities across the Android platform, courtesy of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart.

What is Bluetooth Low Energy?

BLE is an update to the existing Bluetooth Classic’s functionality and operations. As the name implies, BLE utilizes less energy than Bluetooth Classic. It does this by regularly putting the BLE device in a sleep state to prevent constant communication. This not only saves power, but also reduces interference with other wireless devices. Also built into this update are means by which the device can go to sleep and wake. With BLE, devices will automatically be put to sleep or woken up when triggered by a BLE compatible device being inside or outside of its range. Though this is, of course, not an ideal technology for a device that requires steady communication for streaming data, such as audio or video, BLE is a perfect fit for many applications, including clocks, sensors, fitness equipment, wearable accessories, light fixtures and even kitchen appliances.

Who is going to benefit from this?

The more important question would be who won’t benefit from BLE?

Consider the convenience of current classic Bluetooth technology and the interactions it allows companies to provide and consumers to enjoy. BLE’s higher power efficiency and instant pairing allow for longer battery life paired with ease of use (pun intended). This means that as a consumer, you’ll get to enjoy the functionality of new BLE devices, without having to change the batteries nearly as often and without having to constantly pair and connect them. There has been a rush of interest in the implementation of BLE technology that has, until now, been held back by the lack of widespread BLE support for Android. Thanks to this update, you can expect to see a plethora of new highly efficient Apps, gadgets, widgets and gizmos with which to App-­®Enable your life.

For those interested in using BLE in a product, this good news means that providing support for the latest, greatest Bluetooth technology won’t leave you pigeon-­???holed anymore. There were a few API’s written for BLE support, but they were not widely compatible and would not allow platform-­???wide compatibility without significant rework. Thanks to this update, there is one native API to support BLE across the Android platform and the floodgates can be drawn. Significantly more Android devices will now support the BLE technology with this update and in the future BLE will come standard on many devices, allowing greater compatibility and a wider market for BLE App and Device sales.

As a developer, how do I get BLE to work with my product?

The iDevices Module is designed specifically for those looking to add Bluetooth Low Energy to their products, but prefer not to learn yet another processor or development environment. We've taken the stock Broadcom stack and simplified the interface by providing easy to use APIs in the form of a C client library in full source that abstracts out the UART protocol specifics. In addition to providing access to full peripheral functionality, we also added our own custom extensions like bidirectional authentication, bulk data transfers and encrypted advertising. The module sports an integrated antenna, EEPROM and crystal in a 6.5x6.5mm package. For those wanting to leverage this module in their products, but wanting to take advantage of the internal processor, all of these extensions can be combined with customized functionality directly on the module by leveraging iDevices' full suite of consulting services.

For more information on our custom BLE module, visit
http://idevicesinc.com/module/