There's one area where Apple has always led the way when it comes to the never-ending conflict between its and Google's mobile operating systems: accessibility. While the Cupertino company already has been supporting direct Bluetooth streaming to hearing devices from many different manufacturers for a long time, Google is only now introducing a similar feature with Android 10. In cooperation with GN Hearing and Cochlear, the company has just announced the first hearing devices to support low-energy Bluetooth streaming on the new OS. Read More
Many of Google's apps are in extremely active development, some are even on weekly update schedules, but there are others that seem practically abandoned until they get that one random update every 6 months or so. With an average of about once per year (so far), Authenticator is easily one of the best examples of the latter group. Given the infrequency of new versions, it's a little disheartening to see that there are no discernable new features in the latest release; but it's actually worse than that, one was even taken away. But don't let this get you down, it looks like this little app may be due for some new tricks soon as it may be entering wireless territory. Read More
Contextual awareness is one of the pillars of Google's recent push in mobile communications. You don't have to look far to see that: Google Now has been getting better and better at "guessing" the information that you need before you even look for it. But when it comes to location, we all know that it can use some help. Not just Google Now, actually. Most current location techniques are quite lacking indoors, underground, or simply fail to differentiate between you standing in front of a bus on one side or the other of the street. That's where beacons, which are small Bluetooth Low Energy devices, come into play by providing a quicker and more granularly precise location information. Read More
With Android 4.3, Android implemented the idea of always-on WiFi where, even if you had Wi-Fi toggled off, the device and apps could still scan for WiFi networks to improve the location's accuracy. Along with using network triangulation, it's another way of getting your current position as quickly as possible without having to rely too much on GPS signals.
Android M is taking the idea further, adding Bluetooth scanning to the equation. Under the Location settings on M, you'll find a Scanning option in the menu, where both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning can be toggled on and off. When enabled, Bluetooth scanning will presumably look for BLE devices like beacons to get a quicker location fix. Read More
It's no secret that Bluetooth has been a problem child for Android, plagued with poor audio quality and connectivity issues. I've already covered a handful of common problems in a previous post, but another issue has been emerging in the last few months that threatens to virtually kill all Bluetooth operation on a device in the right conditions. The culprit is a nasty little oversight in the Bluetooth Low-Energy code added with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Once a device has been within range of enough BLE devices, the entire Bluetooth service will begin crashing.
There is only one truly obvious symptom, but it's incredibly unhelpful for diagnosing the issue. Read More
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. Read More
For quite some time, we've been hearing about the potential advantages of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) spec, and a seemingly endless list of gadgets that could benefit from it. Unfortunately, while many modern flagship devices are equipped with the necessary hardware, Google has allowed the Android OS to languish without official support for the standard. Most of the top OEMs have built their own proprietary versions for the energy efficient protocol, but until now, only Motorola has freely shared access to its API. However, that changes today: Samsung is taking its BLE SDK public.
Since building their own custom frameworks, both HTC and Samsung have required developers to submit applications for access to the SDKs. Read More