Apple-Bluetooth-01Something new in iOS 7 that hasn’t been getting much coverage is the improvements Apple is making to Core Bluetooth for better integration with Bluetooth LE accessories. Apple is making a lot of changes to its Bluetooth APIs in iOS 7 that will not only allow your iOS devices to work with more Bluetooth LE devices, it will also introduce new features for everything from time to notifications, keyboards, and stereo sound.

Enhance your apps with support for new types of accessories. Location beacons are a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence. Location beacons will provide apps a whole new level of location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores. Other new features include the ability to setup and configure Wi-Fi accessories, such as AirPlay speakers, directly from iOS.

On top of the new location beacons, we already know about a few new Bluetooth improvements in iOS 7 including the new framework for hardware game controllers, and the AirDrop file sharing feature. However, there are also some big improvements to APIs coming that will make your Bluetooth devices work seamlessly with iOS 7…

Yesterday, the Bluetooth SIG congratulated Apple’s “unprecedented integration of Bluetooth technology” in iOS 7 and noted two big new services available to developers including: Apple Notification Center Service and the Preservation and Restoration service:

I think the two most interesting Bluetooth related features Apple introduced this week were inclusion in the Apple Notification Center Service (ANCS) and the Preservation and Restoration service. ANCS pushes notifications from the iOS device to the Bluetooth Smart peripheral. This sets the table for some incredible innovation developers can bring to market. For example, my favorite sports app will seamlessly push an alert to my Bluetooth Smart watch every time my beloved Seattle Seahawks score a touchdown… My watch will buzz once for a field goal or twice for a touchdown and discretely flash the score on the screen without me pulling out my phone.

CoreBluetooth-iOS7The State Preservation and Restoration service for Bluetooth in iOS 7 will mean huge improvements for Bluetooth devices like smart watches. Previously, for apps that run in the background and communicate or share data using CoreBluetooth, the application might be terminated to free up memory for other apps. In iOS 6, that could mean the app no longer talks to a connected Bluetooth device. Apple has fixed this with the new Preservation and Restoration service, which will determine why an app was terminated and have iOS 7 step in and continue running the app until it needs to be relaunched. From the consumer’s point of view, the aim is to allow apps for low-powered Bluetooth devices like smart watches or health monitors to be connected at all times.

Apple Notification Center Service: One of the biggest annoyances with many of the Bluetooth smart watches out there, most notably Pebble, is its inability to receive all Notifications reliably from an iOS device. It appears Apple is making that easier with iOS 7, as Selfscreens points us to the video below claiming to show improved push notifications on the Pebble.

Up until now, Bluetooth devices like Pebble could only receive SMS, Email and Call notifications reliably from iOS 6+ devices. Some users aren’t noticing improved notifications with Pebble and iOS 7 yet, but there are definitely big improvements coming this fall with iOS 7 and Apple Notification Center Service. Here’s how it works:

The big change for Notifications on devices like Pebble will be thanks to the new Apple Notification Center Service (ANCS). In iOS 6, developers had to rely on unreliable services for basic notifications or force the user to run an iOS app in order to send notifications from other third-party apps and services. With ANCS in iOS 7, Apple is opening up full access to Notification Center, allowing Bluetooth devices to automatically receive any notification event from your iOS device by default. iOS 7 will also automatically reconnect to the device without need for a third-party app.

We reached out to Pebble who told us they are excited to introduce new features with Apple’s improved Bluetooth APIs in iOS 7:

We’re excited about the new APIs that Apple is planning to add in iOS 7. We will be experimenting with the iOS 7 betas to make Pebble integrate even better with iOS devices and plan to support the new features by the time iOS 7 is released.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.