Bluetooth 5 awaited; good news regarding range and speed

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(Tech Xplore)—Why would there not be a lot of bubbly feelings over "the next major iteration of one of the most popular wireless standards," as PhoneArena described Bluetooth 5.

It's like a cake and balloon party, with tech site after tech site waiting for the upcoming event that is to ring in Bluetooth 5, and for very specific reasons. For now, we can simplify and focus on two words, speed and range.

According to Zac Hall, editor, 9to5Mac, on Friday, the new standard will be announced quite soon. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group will make Bluetooth 5 official on Thursday at a London press event, he said. (The SIG group are people who oversee the development of Bluetooth standards.)

The new version is going to double the range and quadruple the speed of low-energy Bluetooth transmissions, said reports.

Liam Tung, ZDNet, said that Bluetooth SIG is looking at "targeted mesh networking as a new capability to support full-home coverage, industrial automation, outdoor usage, medical devices, and location-based services."

Senior Products Editor Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, talked about what else side speed and range one can look forward to with the new spec. Cunningham talked about an "advertising packet" which allows Bluetooth devices to send information snippets to other Bluetooth devices even if the two are not connected to one another.

"For instance, when you go to pair a Bluetooth keyboard or speaker with one of your devices, advertising packets can let you see the name of the device before you've paired it so you can distinguish it from all the other Bluetooth devices that are within range."

Brad Linder in Liliputing also took readers into what life may be like under the new Bluetooth 5: "Bluetooth 5 could be used to connect smart home products to one another or to a hub or gateway. And Bluetooth beacons would be able to more easily deliver location-based information to users as they travel through stores, museums, or streets."

That seems to chime with most Bluetooth watchers who said on Friday to expect the new iteration to propel deployment of beacons and location-based services to users.

Hold the balloons, though. How does all this affect hardware?

BGR said on Friday, "It's not known when mobile devices will support the new Bluetooth standard."

Cunningham said, "at the current rate of adoption, we can probably expect Bluetooth 5.0 laptops, tablets, phones, and accessories to start appearing at some point next year."

David Nield in TechRadar predicted that, unlike with some Bluetooth upgrades, "this one might require new chips (although old kit will work with Bluetooth 5, you won't get the extra performance and features). Get ready for the flagship phones of 2017 to all come with Bluetooth 5 installed inside."


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