Apple’s new iOS 7 update isn’t just a facelift for the iPhone software, it’s adding features that will make smartwatch owners happy and showing that Apple is ready and welcoming for connected watches and health monitors. It could also point to the groundwork for the rumored iWatch.
Apple quietly showed off better Bluetooth LE support during the iOS 7 announcement, but didn’t go too far into the details about the service.
Soon after the event, Apple posted more details, outlining new iOS 7 Bluetooth features that include Notifications and better support to keep apps that connect to Bluetooth Smart devices running.
iOS 7 works with more Bluetooth LE profiles, including time, notifications, keyboards, and stereo sound.
Bluetooth SIG, a special interest group that promotes and provides guidance on Bluetooth Standards, praises the new Apple Notification Center Service which allows Bluetooth Smart devices to tap into iPhone notifications just as the iPhone gets them. This means that the Pebble smartwatch can get all notifications that the iPhone gets, even from third-party apps. The video below shows this in action.
Pebble tells 9to5Mac, which shares more details about the Notification Center Service,
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.
This is great news for Pebble owners who also own an iPhone, because it should mean a better overall experience this fall.
New support for the Notification Center over Bluetooth is also interesting when placed in context with rumors of an Apple iWatch. Wearable technology is a growing industry that many think Apple will enter with a smartwatch. The nickname iWatch is how most currently refer to the idea of an iOS powered watch. If Apple really has a 100 person team working on the iWatch, this new feature must come with influence from these individuals.
iOS 7 doesn’t deliver proof that Apple is working on an iOS 7 powered iWatch, but a the very least Apple is opening up more of iOS to Bluetooth devices, which will likely deliver a better experience on wearable and connected devices.
The iOS 7 beta is currently available to Apple developers and adventurous users who are willing to pay a small fee and give up device stability. The full set of new smartwatch and Bluetooth LE features will arrive in a free iOS 7 update to the public this fall.