There’s no denying that the switch to Broadcom’s Bluetooth stack in Android 4.2 has created some stressful situations for frequent users of the short range networking technology. The added attention also raised awareness for some features that are woefully lacking in the OS, something that other OEMs have been working to resolve independently. To a round of applause during the Best Practices for Bluetooth Development session, Sara Sinclair Brody announced Google will finally address two of the most popular requests. Beginning with API level 18, Android will officially support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and AVRCP 1.3.


BLE, also marketed as Bluetooth Smart and Smart Ready, has been a hot topic in light of many new wearable computing devices sporting the feature, like the Pebble smartwatch and Amiigo Fitness bracelet. The newly supported protocol will allow for communication with certain devices while using very little power, a boon to our already limited battery capacity. Android will be the last major mobile platform to formally support the standard.

Streaming audio to devices will also be improved with the addition of AVRCP 1.3, which brings 2-way communication and full track metadata for capable hardware.

Unfortunately, these changes appear to be exclusive to future versions of Android. The announcement is very clear to specify the API level, which is only updated when new versions of the operating system are released. On a brighter note, it was made clear during the session that the Nexus 4 is equipped with the necessary dual-mode Bluetooth chip necessary to support BLE, so it will be fully compliant when Android is updated. Nexus 4's Bluetooth SIG re-certification from 3.0 to 4.0 that was posted today corroborates the story:


Google is certainly late to the party with these enhancements, but the progress since introducing the Broadcom stack is actually really good.

Sources: +Sara Sinclair Brody, BusinessWire

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • blahmoomoo

    I really hope that this will also fix the poor audio quality I get when streaming music over Bluetooth, especially in the treble range.

    • cblucher

      Bluetooth Smart unfortunately has a lower throughput that "old" Bluetooth, so don't expect better sound.

      What you can expect is a lot of interesting devices that can talk with your Phone (both Android and IOS).

      • itmustbejj

        While Bluetooth smart does have a lower throughput and range, it doesn't support voice and is not made for audio streaming. The two technologies are not mutually exclusive, so expect to still use "classic" bluetooth mode for audio streaming and voice.

  • Alexei Watson

    fantastic news. AVRCP was so long overdue..

    • http://www.facebook.com/sebastian.kleye Sebastian Kleye

      +1 missed it, too. Wonder why it took so long...

    • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

      I could have sworn I had this before. I clearly remember seeing song names on my BT radio. Maybe it was with my S II running CM? I dunno.

      • Alexei Watson

        touchwiz and other carrier skins add more up to bluetooth stacks to their ROMs.

        Also in CM10 they got AVRCP 1.3 working for a while, before google changed the stack to a different one in the AOSP for 4.2 (CM10.1)

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    Don't forget that the Galaxy Nexus also has a Bluetooth chip that supports BLE. I didn't forget, and hopefully Google didn't either.

    • Ole Ingeman Christensen

      That's great. I didn't know that.
      Now we can only hope the next build of Android will come to the glory Galaxy Nexus as well!
      Difficult to say if the hardware is compatible with the needed specs. :-)

      • Michael Fontenot

        It probably will. Updates usually go three generations back. Nexus s got ics.

        • Colin Jones

          There's actually no reason to assume that all updates won't go all the way back. Not just three generations. That's an artificial construct based on a single data point because of the nexus one. When the next nexus and version of android comes out, you'll be saying "four generations" using the same construction. Google have never said anything about three and why should they it's in their interests to go as far back as possible and against their interests to artificially limit it at some number of generations. The real reason the nexus one didn't get updated (being the only data point I mentioned) is very simple - it doesn't have enough system flash memory in the original partition scheme for later versions of android to fit on it! And repositioning in an over the air update presumably was considered too risky.

          • http://twitter.com/shantanugoel Shantanu Goel

            Actually, google has time and again mentioned an 18 month upgrade policy.

  • David Z

    Does the latest batch of flagship phones have the hardware to support it also?

    • Yuuki

      avcrp 1.3 is supportet since years, look at the cm roms who have it since years.

      • itmustbejj

        Not in CM10.1 because of the new bluetooth stack.

  • Jason Brown

    about f*cking time they incorporated Bluetooth Smart and Smart Ready into the OS. someone from google finally came across this issue: https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=33371&q=mio&colspec=ID%20Type%20Status%20Owner%20Summary%20Stars

    • Matthew Fry

      Seriously doubt it. Google lives in a bubble without any real dialogue with the users and it pisses me off. The Android code page is specifically for the AOSP parts of Android.

  • RitishOemraw

    Calling it now.....android 4.3 Jellybean will be released with this (and the final tweaks to the UI before KLP) when they announce the new 7inch nexus tablet at a separate event!

    Speculative calling: Might be it's made by HTC and as such announced during an HTC event

  • Christopher Robert

    Does anyone have a list of devices that support this tech already?

  • Matthew Fry

    So does the Galaxy S3 support BLE? I'm dying to know.

  • kay

    Wonder why it's not 1.4 since they took their time getting this implemented..

  • Terry Cameron

    I am so glad to hear this! :D

  • 1234568

    Does this also mean that car stereos will be able to access contacts etc over BT? This functionality has been around for years with iPhone but I can't seem to get it with my N4.

    • Daedalus

      I can get my contacts on my Sony car stereo via BT on my Galaxy Nexus (4.2.2) already. Nothing special installed -- it just popped up asking for permission to access contacts when I paired my phone with it.

  • http://www.binarytuberculosis.com BinaryTB

    Any clue if the Bluetooth improvements include Apt-X codec support? I could really use the higher quality codec for music. I think HTC's Sense already supports it, possibly even Samsung, but us Nexus owners are left out sadly.

    • Jordan Thoms

      Someone asked about this at the Bluetooth google i/o session - doesn't sound likely. Apt-X is proprietary, so they probably couldn't include it in AOSP which would mean the nexus devices would need to have a proprietary factory rom.

    • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

      You made me curious, what codes does BT stream music now?

      • http://www.binarytuberculosis.com BinaryTB
        • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

          Thank you. I always thought that music streamed over BT to my home theater system didn't sound as good. Now I finally know it's not all in my head lol.