Skip to main content

iOS 7 massively expands Bluetooth support for smartwatches, fitness trackers, other devices

iOS 7 massively expands Bluetooth support for smartwatches, fitness trackers, other devices

Share this story

Using a Pebble or any other smartwatch alongside iOS isn't nearly as convenient or user-friendly as it should be, but thankfully Apple plans on fixing that come fall. As part of iOS 7 (and OS X Mavericks), the company is greatly broadening its support for Bluetooth, a huge boon for smartwatches, fitness trackers, medical devices, and other products based around the technology.

Less will be needed of the user

In a post at the official Bluetooth blog, chief marketing officer Suke Jawanda outlines some of these changes. First, he confirms that Bluetooth Smart is a big part of AirDrop, an iOS 7 feature that lets nearby users quickly exchange photos and documents. With the new operating systems, Bluetooth hardware will also gain access to Apple Notification Center Services (ANCS), making the task of pushing notifications to smartwatches and other wearables far more seamless for developers. Rather than having to come up with clever workarounds — as Pebble had to do with iOS 6 — the expanded support ideally means users shouldn't have to worry about fussing with settings to get things functioning properly.

No more worrying about syncing

Bluetooth Smart devices will also see inclusion in iOS Preservation and Restoration services. What this means is that rather than needing to hold down a sync button on your Nike Fuelband, the fitness tracker will automatically push your stats to Nike's iOS app in real time without requiring any user intervention — even if the app is closed. It's equally big news for the growing number of Bluetooth-based medical devices on the market and in hospitals; patients won't be encumbered with nearly as many special directives to ensure everything is communicating properly. As Apple has famously said in years past, it should "just work." We'll have to see whether Apple's execution can live up to its promises when iOS 7 ships this fall. With Android also embracing Bluetooth Smart, Jawanda hints that we should hear more about Microsoft's standing at Build later this month.