Apple Gives Massive Nod To Wearable Tech in New iOS 7 Update

Apple may not have unveiled its own smartwatch during this week’s WWDC event but it gave a massive nod to the wearable tech industry with the inclusion of two Bluetooth features in iOS 7.

One of the frustrating things with wearable devices for iOS users today is the need to use third party services to get notifications or collect data. Wearables, like the Pebble and Nike’s Fuel Band, require apps or even workarounds like IFTTT, in order to perform some of their core functions.

At this week’s WWDC, Apple cleared the deck of these issues by opening up two Bluetooth driven features: Apple Notification Center Service (ANCS) and the Preservation and Restoration Service. These services are critical at pushing notifications from iOS to a Bluetooth Smart device (ANCS) and passively collecting and storing data from a Bluetooth device back to an app on your iPhone or iPad.

In my opinion, the inclusion of these features is an even bolder move for Apple into the wearable technology space than if they were to have announced the launch of their own smartwatch this year (which I know we are all still holding our breath for).  With these changes, Apple has positioned themselves as a connected hub for wearable devices and other “smart” objects that keeps them entirely relevant as we continue our technological evolution into the Internet of Things.

“For all of us in the wearable space, opening up the ANCS makes our lives a lot easier, and means we can provide much better user experiences for a big segment of our consumers,” explains Shane Luke, VP of Product Development at Vancouver-based Recon Instruments, creator of a Google Glass competitor called Jet.

“I hope this means that Apple recognizes both the value and consumer demand for connected wearables. Interoperability is going to be key for growing this category, and moves like this are exactly what we need,” Luke told Techvibes.

These changes mark a surprisingly and rather “open” move for Apple whom some could argue are fairly closed off and gated when it comes to their technology. But it makes sense if Apple wishes to compete with Android on working nice with a slew of new connected things expected to come out as early as later this year.  

As a Pebble iOS user who has had to re-route my mail and calendar notifications through SMS in order to get them to show up on my smartwatch, iOS 7 can’t come any sooner. But beyond the smartwatch, I see these new changes at being especially beneficial to the health and fitness sector.

With the Preservation and Restoration service, health and fitness wearables will no longer require users to actively go into an app and tap a button to start to track and store activity. With iOS 7, users can monitor their heart rate, keep tabs on their temperature and track how much they moved in one day without the need to remember to physically trigger this monitoring. This is big news for upcoming wearables like the Indiegogo medical scanner product, Scanadu Scout and the brainwave monitoring headset by Canada’s own InteraXon, Muse. And it officially marks Apple’s participation in creating the “Quantified Self.”

For most, the new flat design of iOS 7 will be the reason to keep using their iPhone or iPad instead of switching over to Android. But for me, access to these new Bluetooth services has sealed the deal to make me an Apple Fanboy for yet another year.