Microsoft has announced that it is collaborating with Fitbit, Garmin and other companies to offer better Bluetooth connectivity and support. This may effectively revamp the existing notification features offered by the OS.
Microsoft divulged the details of the project, stating that it was working with these device manufacturers to provide an improved Bluetooth experience in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The recent preview also hints at some of these features. Users are being requested for feedback on the same.
Microsoft has integrated three main features in the Bluetooth services in the Windows 10 build 15007. These three features are GATT Server, unpaired Bluetooth LE device connectivity and Bluetooth LE Peripheral.
The GATT Server
GATT essentially means Generic ATTribute. This describes how data needs to be structured and is required to function on a Bluetooth LE device. The device having the "interesting data" is dubbed a Server and the device which deploys the data is the Client. The GATT Server may prove to be particularly useful to Windows 10 users.
The GATT Server will aim to improve the experience which users have with wearable devices. How? Windows 10 smartphones will now be able to act as servers in order to send notifications to the other devices connected via Bluetooth.
The client for Windows Phone will read the data from a heart-rate monitor, so that it can track whether the user is working out correctly or not. When a text message comes in, Windows will be able to send that message to the device connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth.
These changes will enable users to avail notifications on their wearable devices, when connected via Bluetooth to a Windows 10 mobile phone. Fitbit is the frontrunner for this support and will soon have wearables with in-built call and messaging support on Windows 10 mobile phones.
Bluetooth LE Peripheral Role
Bluetooth will now be able to define Generic Access Profile (GAP) roles too, in addition to defining GATT roles. The GAP roles determine which device will offer Bluetooth connection and which ones will be connected to them.
To link a gadget, users normally find the devices which they want to connect to in the Settings tab. This process of connection points out that Windows is acting as the GAP Central role. There are many cases where devices like smart locks are required to be synchronized with Windows, or when two devices are going to be connected. In such situations, Windows is required to be shown as "Connected."
In the preview, apps are shown putting the system in a state offering Bluetooth support and connections for LE devices. With this peripheral role and GATT combined, Windows can work on all four GATT and GAP roles.
Unpaired Bluetooth LE Device Connectivity
Bluetooth devices are generally required to be paired to Windows to access them. This compels users to navigate back to the Settings tab to connect the device, or leads to developers creating pairing logic codes within the app itself.
Some devices do not support Bluetooth connectivity, which this leads to a tedious amount of background work. Post the improved Bluetooth support, the scenario may differ because of the new GATT APIs, as it may facilitate better connectivity and pairing options for unpaired devices.
Sadly, not too many wearable devices offer Windows 10 support. Even though Microsoft is looking to revamp its Bluetooth features in Windows 10-based smartphones, users on the OS are still suffering due to poor developer support.