Help for using BroodMinders with Android
The wide variety of Android variations presents a special problem for anybody developing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices. The fact is, while the majority of devices work OK, some work poorly no matter how many tricks and work-arounds we try.
Here are some suggestions for things that may (or may not) help. They are listed in order. After the suggestions we will explain further for the interested student.
- Many times simply turning Bluetooth off and back on will start things working again.
- Less common however seen on some phones, turning the phone completely off and back on fixes things
- If connections work, but are slow, you can enable "Fast Connect" in the BroodMinder app on the setting page. We've seen this help in many cases, but the cost is faster battery usage in your BroodMinders. We suggest using this in the summer, and use "Standard Config" in the winter.
- Use the BroodMinder-Apiary App. The apiary app will do automated uploads so you don't spend time watching and pushing buttons.
- Use a different phone or tablet. A lot of people have alternate choices. BroodMinder apps can be loaded (for free) on multiple devices. Use the one that works best.
- Get a cheap phone to use for beekeeping. For around $50-$60 you can find a lot of choices. We have great luck with iPhones (4s and up) and we also have good luck with BLU phones such as the XL and C6.
- If all else fails, you can return your BroodMinders. We hate losing you, but if you're not happy, we're not happy.
Thanks for all you do for your honeybees. Every hive counts.
For the interested student, here is more explanation of what we are finding and how we are trying to cope with it. We are open to any suggestions; we have spent weeks and weeks (and weeks) on this and have had some good help, but we are still frustrated.
We use CR2032 batteries because they fit in bee space and have long life. However, to get over a year out of them, we have to set our BLE advertising rate to 5 seconds. This seems like a good trade-off since changing batteries is somewhat involved.
Although 5 second advertising is within BLE specs, Apple recommends 1 second. However, every iOS device we test, works consistently and well. Android is all over the place.
Since each BLE driver is specific to the chip set and the phone manufacturer, there is little consistency. As with all implementations, some are more true to the specifications, and some are very buggy. We have seen great improvement over the last three years. Newer phones in general work much better.
Unfortunately, BLE can't be tested using the remote 1000 device test sites that are available. We have to test here at BroodMinder Global Headquarters. We test on the following:
- Samsung S4 (api 19)(works well)
- Samsung Tablet SM-T530 (api 21) (works but slow)
- Samsung Tablet SM-T350 (api 25)(works well)
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (api 22)(works ok)
- Amazon Fire 5th Gen (api 22)(works ok)
- BLU Dash XL (api 23)(works well)
- BLU C6 (api 27)(works well)
- RCA RCT6873 (api 23)(does not work)
- Plus about 4 other devices by the BroodMinder Team during Beta