Phones are (usually) always connected to a network, so tracking them when they are lost isn't too difficult, but the same is not true for most other devices. Apple has been experimenting with using Bluetooth and ultra-wideband wireless signals to track the location of devices without Wi-Fi or cellular connection, and now Samsung is introducing similar technology with its own products following a few months of testing. Read More
Bluetooth audio accessories market kicked into high gear as headphone jacks began disappearing, and soon got flooded with more options than ever. While the Bluetooth 5.0 standard brought significant functional improvements even to the cheapest earbuds, the Bluetooth SIG wants to make further strides with LE Audio. The upcoming wireless standard will keep power consumption in check using a new lower-power codec, while also adding multi-stream audio and native support for hearing aids.
There's one area where Apple has always led the way when it comes to the never-ending conflict between its and Google's mobile operating systems: accessibility. While the Cupertino company already has been supporting direct Bluetooth streaming to hearing devices from many different manufacturers for a long time, Google is only now introducing a similar feature with Android 10. In cooperation with GN Hearing and Cochlear, the company has just announced the first hearing devices to support low-energy Bluetooth streaming on the new OS. Read More
With so many phone-makers dropping physical headphone jacks in favor of a Bluetooth-dominated music experience, we're all the more aware of the sacrifices we make going the wireless route. Beyond concerns over latency, battery life, and sound fidelity, it's also important to consider issues with setup; while it's effortless to plug in a pair of wired headphones and immediately get listening, Bluetooth pairing isn't always as straightforward. Last year Google took steps to simplify things with the introduction of its Fast Pair system, and today we get word of the latest Fast Pair enhancements. Read More
Google and Coca-Cola's partnership effort for in-store advertising displays looks to be bearing fruit. The advertising system uses DoubleClick's preference and tracking data combined with Google's Beacon Platform to serve up targeted ads by pulling data from passing smartphones. With that info, displays are able to select content based on your preferences in the form of advertisements specifically targeted to passersby. In a recent grocery store pilot program the Minority Report-style ads performed quite very well. Read More
Back in June, the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) announced Bluetooth 5.0, which promised improvements across the board for this wireless protocol, mostly for the Low Energy (BLE) transfers: 2x speed, 4x range, and 8x broadcast message capacity. As more and more devices and things in our lives become connected, from the fridge to the lamp to the clothes we're wearing, this new version should make Bluetooth more reliable as a low-energy and universal communication and data transfer standard.
Now, the Bluetooth SIG has officially adopted Bluetooth 5.0 and explains one further advantage: the reduction of wireless interference with other technologies. It expects devices with Bluetooth 5.0 to start shipping in two to six months. 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
Contextual awareness is one of the pillars of Google's recent push in mobile communications. You don't have to look far to see that: Google Now has been getting better and better at "guessing" the information that you need before you even look for it. But when it comes to location, we all know that it can use some help. Not just Google Now, actually. Most current location techniques are quite lacking indoors, underground, or simply fail to differentiate between you standing in front of a bus on one side or the other of the street. That's where beacons, which are small Bluetooth Low Energy devices, come into play by providing a quicker and more granularly precise location information. Read More
With Android 4.3, Android implemented the idea of always-on WiFi where, even if you had Wi-Fi toggled off, the device and apps could still scan for WiFi networks to improve the location's accuracy. Along with using network triangulation, it's another way of getting your current position as quickly as possible without having to rely too much on GPS signals.
Android M is taking the idea further, adding Bluetooth scanning to the equation. Under the Location settings on M, you'll find a Scanning option in the menu, where both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning can be toggled on and off. When enabled, Bluetooth scanning will presumably look for BLE devices like beacons to get a quicker location fix. Read More
Bluetooth Low Energy is the current preferred method of communication between multiple accessories and Android devices. I can count 4 objects on my body right now that connect to my phone through BLE, not to mention the various accessories strewn across my desk and in other locations around me. Each of these has its own app on my phone that connects to the device every now and then and retrieves data, which, you can easily guess, has a toll on the battery.
In Android M, Google is improving the way apps scan for BLE devices. Apps that use the new android.bluetooth.le.ScanSettings.Builder.setCallbackType() will only be notified of callbacks when they first find a match to the set ScanFilter (ie when they match the name or the Mac address of the chosen BLE device) and after a period of inactivity. Read More