Here's a good news / bad news kind of situation with the latest Android 6.0.1 update. In 2013, KitKat was supposed to link Bluetooth and System media controls allowing headsets, speakers, and car stereos to manage volume loudness on your phone. That never happened. Up until Android 6.0, if you were listening to audio through a Bluetooth-connected accessory, you had to control volume from your phone and the accessory separately. You could lower one, but the other would stay high, resulting in a medium volume. In order to completely lower or raise the volume, you had to do so from both, which wasn't practical at all. Read More
A growing thread on the Android issue tracker is home to more and more reports of in-vehicle Bluetooth problems with the Nexus 5, 6, 5X, and 6P. The N5 and N6 allegedly only became affected when their Marshmallow updates rolled out, while the 5X and 6P, which run Marshmallow out of the box, have allegedly had problems from day one. Notably, the Bluetooth issue being cited supposedly was not present in the "M" developer preview releases for the Nexus 5 or 6, suggesting something changed recently to cause it.
The rather irksome bug manifests most commonly as follows. When attempting to dial out to a phone number when your phone is connected to your car via Bluetooth, the call will fail and the car's radio will resume playing whatever audio was on previously. Read More
Google's Chrome development team regularly implements new APIs to extend the possibilities for web apps to behave more like their native counterparts. The most recent addition to the Chrome dev channel allows web developers to use Bluetooth to communicate with nearby hardware. This could be used for things like an online fitness tracker that gets data from a heart rate monitor or for a controller to drive a Sphero, all without installing a native app.
These things are possible with the new Web Bluetooth API. Still in the early stages of development, this allows a web application to query for Bluetooth devices based on their capabilities, then pass messages back and forth with little or no friction. Read More
So far Samsung's plus-sized Galaxy View tablet has been given a custom CNN news app and a sort of bulletin board photo app, both of which are exclusive to the device. But Samsung isn't finished yet. Today they published a third app that, if not exclusive to the 18.4-inch tablet itself, is certainly meant to be used exclusively with it. It's a remote control app that lets you operate pretty much every input on the device via a Bluetooth-connected Android phone. Read More
Today, the Bluetooth SIG announced a series of improvements on the Bluetooth standard's "technology roadmap" in 2016 would offer enhanced range, speed, and mesh networking capability for the wireless communication protocol.
It's not clear if these changes will be part of a new standard (like Bluetooth 4.2 and beyond) or if there will be improvements applicable to older specs as well. In addition, we don't know if any of these improvements would require changes to the Bluetooth hardware itself, or whether both host and device must support the spec to see any kind of benefit. It's not even clear when we'll be able to expect devices with the improvements. Read More
If you've been drooling over Kwikset's Bluetooth-powered, Android-compatible power door locks, but you've been wary of the high entry price, today is the day to bust out your wallet. Best Buy is offering refurbished versions of the Kevo smart lock for $129.99. While that doesn't quite make it into impulse buy territory, it's a generous $60 off the regular price of the refurbished version and $70 off of a new retail unit. You can get free shipping (store pickup is not available), but the price is only good for today.
For the uninitiated, the Kevo is an electronic lock that works with conventional metal keys and can also be controlled via mobile devices or home automation systems. Read More
I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to review the V5PF (Play-Fi) Wireless Speaker from Wren. The sound quality was absolutely immaculate, and everything about the physical product more than justified its fairly high price tag. The one unfortunate dark spot in the nearly perfect experience came from software – an Android app built by DTS to run its proprietary Play-Fi protocol. It was ugly, amateurish, and unreliable. Two years have passed, and Wren has released the V5US, a new model that not only fixes some minor issues from previous products, but it also combines the features of its three existing variants to produce a single speaker with support for Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. Read More
Nope, Apple Music still isn't available on Android (though it's being actively tested). Instead, the second Android app that Cupertino has officially published is in support of the hardware half of its Beats acquisition. It's a companion and pairing app for the Beats Pill+, the latest revision of Beats' portable Bluetooth speaker. That's it. That's all. There isn't any more. Read More
If you're looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that are designed specifically for working out and other active pursuits, you couldn't do much better than the BlueBuds X from JayBird. The company has released a second generation of the headphones, but the originals are still quite good, and they're available with respectable discounts. Right now Amazon has them for as low as $89.99, at least if you buy from the right vendor, Amazon's listing (close to the top) on this page. That's the lowest price for the headphones that we've seen yet.
There's a bit of a catch: that particular vendor, which is selling the white version of the Gen 1 BlueBuds X, is out of stock right now. Read More