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.