Bluetooth’s dream of controlling the smart world edges closer with newest version

Libratone Too
Bluetooth 5 is here, and it’s no longer just about connecting headphones and speakers to your smartphone. The new version signals a shift to become a conduit for the Internet of Things, thanks to new features including extended range, faster speeds, and the ability to send more data to devices without needing a direct connection.

The new version was first announced when the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s Mark Powell discussed plans in a public email earlier in June. Bluetooth 5 signals a shift away from the “version x.x” naming template that has been in use since the technology was introduced. Powell said the change is intended to simplify the organization’s marketing efforts, and make it clear to users that this is a “significant” update to the technology.

Bluetooth 5 will be released later this year or early 2017, and promises to quadruple the current range of approximately 10 meters and double the speed of low energy connections, all without sucking too much power. Where Bluetooth 5 will come into its own is in the home, and through the use of Bluetooth Beacons powering smart cities, stores, and public spaces.

In addition to the extra range and speed, Bluetooth 5 introduces a connectionless feature, where rather than beacons and other devices communicating with an open app or one running in the background, they can broadcast to browsers — such as Google’s Eddystone linking with Chrome. The additional broadcast capacity means more data can be sent, and the messages received more helpful and information packed.

Bluetooth has made its plans for connecting up smart homes very clear in the past, and in 2015, spoke about what it called “enabling technology” coming to Bluetooth soon. It appears Bluetooth 5 is the result. The new features make Bluetooth Beacons — the transmitters that will drive smart streets and provide information to us automatically, from inside museums to navigating around airports — far more useful and, hopefully, more reliable.

Will Bluetooth 5 support come via a firmware upgrade, or will it only be supported by hardware designed with it in mind? Previous versions have been a mixture of both, and according to the Bluetooth SIG, version 5 will most likely have specific hardware and software requirements, indicating it’ll only arrive on devices designed for it. However, it will depend on Bluetooth 5’s usage, so some features may be pushed through a software update.

We’ll know more as the release date approaches.

Previous updates:

Updated on 06-17-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in comment from Bluetooth regarding compatibility with existing Bluetooth hardware

Updated on 06-16-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of Bluetooth 5’s official announcement

Product Review

Garmin’s Forerunner 245 Music is all a runner needs to measure performance

Garmin's new Forerunner 245 fitness watch offers advanced metrics, onboard color maps and music. Is this trio a winning combination? We put the watch through its paces to find out.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Gaming

Here are all the game streaming services you should know about

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game-streaming services.
Movies & TV

Miles Teller goes full Goose in Top Gun: Maverick set photos

The 1986 action drama Top Gun helped make Tom Cruise a superstar, and now he's returning to the role of hotshot pilot Pete Maverick Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick. Here's what we know about the movie so far.
Computing

The top mesh routers for a bigger, better, and faster Wi-Fi network

The best mesh routers and Wi-Fi extenders give a wireless network both range and speed. Better yet, they scale fantastically well, so you can always expand your network if you need it to be larger tomorrow than it is today.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for May 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals for…
Product Review

Oppo’s cutting-edge Reno has a shark fin pop-up camera, and plenty of bite

The Oppo Reno has a very cool shark fin-style pop-up camera to make it stand out in a crowd, and a rear camera with a 10x zoom, plus there’s a 5G version coming soon. It’s truly up-to-date, with plenty of cutting-edge tech inside.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else entirely.
Gaming

These are the 20 best Android games you can play offline

Even in our increasingly connected world, you don't always have an internet connection on the go. To help you pass the time when you're disconnected, we compiled a list of the best Android games that can be played offline.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Deals

Qustodio drops prices 10% on premium parental control software plans

With school almost out for summer, now is a prime time to keep your children's content consumption in check and protect your own peace of mind with Qustodio's premium parental control software plans, now available at 10% off.
Mobile

As stock Android spreads, is it time for Android manufacturer skins to die?

Many Android device manufacturers seem to be moving towards a stock Android look and ditching separate skins, but there are a few notable exceptions. Do manufacturer interfaces for Android still add value, or is it time for them to die?
Mobile

Prevent a broken screen with the best Google Pixel 3a XL screen protectors

The Pixel 3a XL is a solid choice if you're looking for a midrange phone with a large screen and a great camera. But it still needs protecting. Here are the best Pixel 3a XL screen protectors to keep your big display safe.
Mobile

Guard your Galaxy with the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are two of the best phones to ever grace this planet -- but the screen still isn't brick-proof. Here are the best Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus screen protectors to keep yours safe.