In a patent filing uncovered today, Apple has detailed a Bluetooth LE based hotspot where a device can share its internet connectivity with other devices without consuming a lot of power. The low-power nature of this connection makes it an ideal candidate for use with the much-rumored iWatch.
Since an iWatch is unlikely to have cellular capabilities to access the internet due to battery life concerns, it is expected to rely on a second device, like an iPhone, for internet connectivity. Bluetooth 4’s Low Energy mode would enable such connectivity without consuming a significant amount of battery.
Moreover, the pairing between the two devices, according to the patent, will be intermittent, and not continuous, since the secondary device needs to obtain only push notifications, emails, messages, news or other alerts. Once the device obtains this data, it can kill the connection, thereby further saving battery life. Much like Background Refresh, this would enable data updates on the secondary device without a lot of user intervention.
An excerpt from the application states:
The proximity profile defines a proximity notification alert that the supporting device sends to the device to advertise its shared access service to the network for devices within range. In one embodiment, upon receiving the proximity notification alert the device joins the supporting device’s shared access service and briefly connects to the network to receive push notifications or other messages, before disconnecting.
While the concepts described here point to an iWatch that heavily depends on a secondary device like the iPhone for important functions, it should be noted that some rumors specifically note that the smartwatch won’t be a smartphone companion.
Last month, Tim Cook hinted that Apple will be unveiling new product categories in 2014, which might be the year we finally see the much rumored iWatch.