The Bluetooth experience on Android has always been a rocky road. For the first few years Android relied on BlueZ, a "protocol stack" originally developed by Qualcomm for the Linux operating system. Despite many limitations and missing features, BlueZ served admirably until Android 4.2 launched with a new stack dubbed Bluedroid, a project built jointly by Google and Broadcom. Like any young project, the bugs were plentiful, but most of the critical issues were solved in the first few weeks.
We've seen at least one device that could be called a "smart ring" already: the wildly successful NFC Ring. But the Smarty Ring, currently accepting funding on Indiegogo, takes the idea about five steps further. It's a smartwatch, more or less, that's made into a ring form factor. Though it's not quite as capable as something like the Pebble, and nowhere near as powerful as the watches from Sony or Samsung, the idea is surprisingly attractive.
Sony has been surprisingly quiet on the smartwatch front since launching its SmartWatch 2. But now that the Galaxy Gear is gaining steam (or at the very least, getting a hell of a lot of advertising airtime) they've set out to put a little extra oomph in their Xperia-styled digital watch. A quick update to the Android app on the Google Play Store has given the device a few expanded capabilities.
There are a lot of Bluetooth keyboards aimed at Android tablets, but ASUS' Transformer series of tablets and docks has long been a favorite of those who prefer a full laptop-style form factor. ASUS is trying to bring that same experience (or at least part of it) to a broader range of devices with the TransKeyboard, revealed on the company's YouTube channel late last night.
The TransKeyboard is pretty similar to other mobile keyboards - it's relatively compact and interoperable with Android smartphones/tablets and PCs.
There are companies coming out of the woodwork trying to get the smart watch right. What if you don't need a smart watch, though? Is there space on your wrist for a single-use device? The people behind Kapture certainly think there is, and enough consumers agree with them that the device squeaked past its Kickstarter goal on the last day. So what is it? Kapture is a wristband that's always listening, ready to export the last 60 seconds of audio to your phone.
Beddit sounds like a Reddit app you use in bed, or perhaps a sub-Reddit about beds. It is neither. Beddit is a Bluetooth sleep sensor that sticks to your mattress to gather data on how you're sleeping, or not sleeping (probably too much Reddit). At any rate, it's looking for funding on Indiegogo and has blown past its goal.
The creators were looking for $80,000 through a flexible funding campaign, but have already reached nearly $300,000 with 16 days left.
Smartwatches are a young category. Superfluous at best and just plain dorky at worst, I've yet to see one that makes me say "wow, I've gotta have that." And if smartwatches have yet to receive their killer application, that's doubly true for the inevitable wave of cheap accessories that will try to cash in on the craze. Case in point: The Bem Wireless Speakerwatch.
This thing is a Bluetooth speakerphone strapped to a wristband.
Samsung just unveiled the much-rumored Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but that's far from the only new smartwatch about to hit wrists around the world. Qualcomm, the company best known for building the ARM chips powering most modern Android devices, has just announced the Toq smartwatch. The Toq (pronounced 'talk') will be compatible with Android 4.0.3 and higher, but does not appear to run Android itself. Unlike the Gear, Qualcomm is promising the Toq will get multiple days of battery life from a single charge thanks to its Mirasol screen.
The Muku Shuttr is a simple piece of hardware that reached its Kickstarter funding goal in under a week, ending its campaign with almost ten times its original goal. It appeared an audience was ready and waiting for a mobile camera remote shutter.
I'm generally fascinated by the variety of mobile photography accessories pouring out of Kickstarter lately (I eagerly backed the Lumu light meter and am awaiting my unit now), and naturally wanted to give Shuttr a try.
Every once in a while we come across an app with such a practical, obvious application that we're forced to wonder why we didn't think of it first. Case in point: Botifier, which sends status updates from any app to a paired and compatible Bluetooth display using version 1.3 or later of the A/V Remote Control Profile. Translation: it sends notifications to your car's Bluetooth-enabled stereo.
The AVRCP standard is usually intended for song information, but developer Grimpy has adapted it to show the notification as the "song title," the application it comes from as the "artist," and the summary as the "album.