When you woke up this morning, did you check your sleep stats that your fitness tracker was recording during the night? Or did you use your phone to turn your bedroom lights into your personal morning sunrise? To start the day right, maybe you were blasting some happy tunes through the speakers that are connected to your phone. Not to forget, when you drove to work your phone was paired with the audio system of the car, just in case you needed to take a phone call, right?
Does any of this sound familiar? It is likely that the answer is “yes” and as you can probably guess from the title of this article, the common denominator in all of these examples is Bluetooth connectivity. What once seemed impossible, is now part of everyday life. We live in an era where we have normalized that our phones (and apps) can do countless things. Bluetooth is one of the features that is being used daily and because it seems so normal and simple to the user, we just take its presence for granted.
Underestimating the complexity of Bluetooth app development
Let’s put this into context. Imagine you are the director of a shoe brand business and you wish to develop an app with Bluetooth capabilities (or add it to your existing one) for your brand new product: Kick-Shoes, shoes with built-in technology capable of counting football kicks. You want your smartphone to retrieve the data via a Bluetooth connection and upload it to the cloud. (This might seem like a silly example, but we promise we’ve seen Bluetooth devices of all kinds that you wouldn’t ever imagine.)
So what are your next steps? First of all, you contact your regular technology provider (or find one) and ask them for a quote to add Bluetooth to your application. Because Bluetooth is used extensively, any provider would claim they are perfectly capable of taking care of the project, even if they have zero experience with this specific technology.
Any provider would feel confident to develop such a system because of one simple reason: if everyone is doing it, it can’t be that hard. Moreover, there is plenty of documentation for both iOS and Android, and developer community forums are filled with bugs and their solutions from other projects. Therefore, you receive a quote, which usually covers the bare minimum to ensure you buy it with no questions asked.
Well, this is the beginning of a journey that will cost you a lot of money, delays, and headaches.
No matter if Bluetooth has been widely used, if there is plenty of documentation, or if forums are filled with code examples, the hard truth is that many things can go wrong when establishing a Bluetooth connection between two devices and the complexity of developing a Bluetooth app should not be underestimated.
Going back to our example: What happens when shoe batteries are low? Or when there is interference from another hardware close-by? What if a smartphone has an old Bluetooth chipset version? Will the system be compatible with all phones? An inexperienced team will not be able to foresee any of these situations, and they will definitely not take them into account when estimating the cost of the project.
As a consequence, you will start to detect random issues, typically connection issues or missing data, with no apparent pattern. Soon you find yourself behind schedule which causes frustration for your team and your customers, and a huge overhead of QA that seems to never end.
Eventually, you’ll realize that investing in an experienced development team would have been a great idea. It’s like having a good accountant – you could probably figure out the basics of your bookkeeping and taxes yourself but if you invest in an expert they will save you time, money, and your sanity, plus everything will be done correctly from the start.
Bluetooth for Android vs iOS
When developing a Bluetooth app, everything is about hardware and software compatibility, mostly because the main challenge is to establish communication tunnels between independent devices (chipsets). Therefore, having control over which chips and firmwares are being used will simplify the amount of issues to be covered.
This has a big impact depending on the platform you choose to implement your application. iOS is a closed system with a huge attention to user experience and a limited number of hardware models, while Android is an open box with an infinite number of hardware manufacturers and operating system customizations. As you can guess, developing a Bluetooth app in iOS usually requires less time and tends to work directly out of the box (once a few corner cases are covered), while in Android it’s important to first select which devices your app must support and then make sure these are fully functional.
Therefore, when planning to roll-out your Kick-Shoe smartphone app, you must be aware that the development times between iOS and Android can differ, and it could be smart to focus on one platform first (depending on your target audience), bringing the adequate resources and timelines to it. Again, previous experience of your development team will be key to assess your business goals and define realistic action plans accordingly. This can make the difference in achieving success with your Bluetooth app.
Our experience in developing Bluetooth apps
At Mobile Jazz, we have gained plenty of experience over the years by building various successful Bluetooth apps for different industries.
We have faced lots of issues, and have invested the time and patience to understand and gain knowledge about typical corner cases and connectivity failure errors.
Specifically, we have collaborated with multiple companies in the Healthcare industry, producing apps capable of communicating data via Bluetooth to track blood pressure (Agedio Kiosk), monitoring the epinephrine pen state (Allergomate), or remote control muscle electro-stimulation patches (Antelope). But our experience doesn’t stop there. We have also collaborated with the well-known GPS hardware devices manufacturer TwoNav in producing high-speed data transfer protocols via Bluetooth, and more.
If you want to build a stable, secure, and reliable Bluetooth mobile app while saving yourself from headaches and surprises, feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.