Bluetooth Low Energy in the Background - iOS8 Followup

I posted about the results of some experiments I had done using the iOS background modes for Bluetooth. At the time I hadn't updated any devices to iOS8 (and they would have been betas anyway). This is a quick update to confirm that there are no changes in these areas that I can see in iOS8.

If you do know of any iOS8 changes or workarounds to the issues described please let me know

Basic Findings (repeated from earlier article)

  1. Apps on BLE capable iOS devices can be woken from the background when a device with the correct UUID is detected even when they have been completely removed from memory due to other apps needing the memory.
  2. This background listening/advertising state is stopped if the app is deliberately closed by the user swiping it up from the task switcher.
  3. The background listening/advertising state is stopped if the device is switched off or runs out of battery. It isn't restarted until the App is run again. (I haven't actually retested running out of battery but am guessing it is the same as manually powering off I will try to test again when the battery on something is getting low)


Please see the previous article for discussion of the impact on on app design and some potential workarounds.

iOS - Bluetooth Low Energy in the Background

The Apple documentation is I believe correct although in places it isn't as explicit as I would prefer. This short article aims to explain what you can and cannot do in the background and the behaviour you will see. This information is relevant for iOS 7. [Update: If iOS 8 is different I will try to revise this post at a later date.  iOS 8 behaviour appears the same in my initial testing and I couldn't find any significant changes documented and there was no CoreBluetooth talk at WWDC 14.] If you think anything is inaccurate please let me know I don't want to mislead anyone and my testing hasn't been extensive.

Not Quite Enough for Peer to Peer Applications

My summary of the situation is that you can't do quite enough to support peer to peer in a viable way unless you have an app that you expect to be run on a regular basis anyway because the background modes (except for iBeacon detection) do not persist through a reboot of the phone or a flat battery. This means that the user will fall off your peer to peer application framework.

iBeacons can awake apps that have not been running since a reboot but iOS devices can only themselves perform as iBeacons in the foreground.