While Bluetooth wireless technology has been around for many years, not all devices have been equal in terms of capabilities. Users of Microsoft’s mobile operating systems will perhaps be amongst the first to attest to that fact given the lack of support for notifications over Bluetooth to wearable devices.
In an attempt to improve this situation, Microsoft has released several new Bluetooth features in this month’s Windows 10 Insider Preview for PCs and phones, specifically:
- Call Control API (PC only): allows VoIP apps to leverage Bluetooth headset call control (call answer, call hold, hang up, etc) and HD voice capabilities.
- GATT Server
- Bluetooth LE Peripheral role: enables Windows to advertise itself as a connectable device, such as wearables and low powered sensors.
- Unpaired Bluetooth LE device connectivity: the ability to interact with Bluetooth LE devices without pairing.
GATT (Generic ATTribute) Server is perhaps the most interesting of the new features. As has been the case for a long time, Windows devices have only had the capability to act as a GATT Client which is able to retrieve information from a GATT Server, such as a fitness tracker or heart rate monitor.
Unfortunately, wearables such a Pebble and Fitbit products have long been unable to act in the opposite manner with Windows devices, effectively thwarting notifications functionality. However, with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Windows itself will be able to act as a GATT Server, paving the way for wearables to receive notifications from Windows 10 Mobile devices.
Of course, device manufacturers will need to update their Windows apps to take advantage of the new functionality before users can reap the benefits. However, in its announcement, Microsoft noted that it was “working directly with Fitbit, Garmin and other device manufacturers”, which may provide some hope that users will hopefully not have too long to wait after the release of the Creators Update.