11

I'm doing a feasibility study into Android tablets for commercial applications. I have a product that requires a Bluetooth Low Energy connection.

I have a Nexus 7 tablet which is supposed to support BLE but I haven't found much information about it. Is there a way to check whether the tablet has BLE and if it's enabled or not?

2
  • According to teardown reports and wikipedia Nexus 7 has a Broadcom chip (Broadcom BCM4330 paired with AzureWave AW-NH665)* which is BTLE capable. But I don't know is all needed SW layers there. Broadcom has also published a BT API as open source, but I don't know is that package included to Nexus. It's a bit of long shot, but could someone having the Nexus 7 check is the com.broadcom.bt.le.api -package included? I would be also very interested to hear....
    – user17318
    Jul 23, 2012 at 21:51
  • I bought a Google Nexus 7 last week with the hopes that the com.broadcom.bt.le shared library would be on it but was disappointed to find that the sample applications do not work on the Nexus 7 since it is missing the shared library. I have emailed the owner of the SDK and ASUS with no response. Then I emailed the support on google play and all he could tell me was information I already knew, that the Nexus 7 has a Broadcom BCM4330 chipset which on paper is Bluetooth 4.0 and is the same chipset used in the iPhone 4s and the new iPad and that it is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible. I didn't response si
    – user18383
    Aug 22, 2012 at 2:05

4 Answers 4

7

As of now, the checking for BLE support has to be done manually by studying specifications and searching on Google (as far as I know).

See this question on Stackoverflow: Bluetooth Smart (4.0) / GATT support in Android 4.0?

It states that Android does not support Bluetooth 4.0 (LE) out of the box up to Android-4.0 (maybe with Jelly Bean 4.1 onwards, the Nexus 7 tab suggests that). Manufacturers have to add their own API to allow access to BT LE (e.g. this app is limited to Motorola). That's why your mileage may vary with different phones up to 4.0. Casio's Bluetooth LE enabled watch is also an example of limited (official) compatibility (not even the iPhone 4S is mentioned, by the way).

My best guess is that with more devices having 4.1 the issue will solve by itself and you can find apps showing it.

Here are lists by manufacturers:

4
  • Thanks for the info, this should get me started on my research.
    – digital
    Jul 19, 2012 at 15:24
  • FYI The Nexus 7 has Broadcom's BCM4330 (same chipset as in iPhone 5), but the sample apps from Broadcom's BLE SDK won't install because the native library is not present.
    – Barend
    Dec 14, 2012 at 11:08
  • Android 4.2 has some news: Android 4.2 introduces a new Bluetooth stack optimized for use with Android devices. The new Bluetooth stack developed in collaboration between Google and Broadcom replaces the stack based on BlueZ and provides improved compatibility and reliability. Source
    – ce4
    Dec 14, 2012 at 13:32
  • I have tried the broadcom sdk on my S3 mini (4.1.2) and the app is crashing on a "no method found": bluetoothDevice.getDeviceType...
    – fvisticot
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:29
4

There is no Bluetooth LE support in all current Android APIs (at the time of writing that is API level 16, up to Android 4.1). Phone manufactures have to use the stacks of the Bluetooth chip manufactures. The only phone that has a build-in LE chip and actually makes use of it is the Motorola Razor. There have been reports that after the ICS update, Bluetooth LE pairing wont work any more.

So, no convenient way to query a device for LE support and make use of it, until there is Bluetooth LE support in the official Android API.

IIRC the Linux kernel has no (stable) Bluetooth LE API yet, too.

1
  • This answer is now out of date.
    – Dan Hulme
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:02
2

Finally with Android 4.3 there is BTLE support in the OS. For individual devices you need to wait for a 4.3 update to see if the support has been added. For now a Nexus 4 looks like the one device that should be good. (I have just ordered one to do BTLE development on.) Some devices that were sold as BTLE ready and are believed to have the necessary hardware don't look like they will really work. e.g. the original Nexus looks not to be getting the update according to Google.

2
+100

Now that Android 4.3 (API Level 18) exposes an API for accessing BLE, it's possible for third-party apps to perform a check for this system feature. One app that can check this for you is Bluetooth LE Scanner. The top of the main activity has an indicator that will display "Supported" if your device has BLE capabilities.

The app is open-source, so you can take a look at the implementation details on GitHub. I have checked the code used to determine if BLE is supported (here, for the curious), and it looks correct based on the official Android guidelines, so I have no reason to suspect that the app will misreport BLE support unless you have attempted to modify your device to try to "fake" it. In any case, it is correct on my Nexus 5. Apps that attempt to perform this check will, of course, only be useful on Android 4.3 or later.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .