Bluetooth has been around for many years now and most people can probably agree the technology is still not good. Pairing Bluetooth devices is a nuisance and keeping them paired is an even bigger nuisance. To top it off, the sound quality of Bluetooth devices still has yet to match wired connections. Apple is very eager to move our wired world into a wireless one with the help of Bluetooth. But for that to happen, we need far more reliable technology.
Bluetooth 5.0 is due for open release at the end of 2016 but more likely in 2017. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has already promised a few improvements to speed and range, but I have a wish list of my own.
Take Note from Apple AirPods
Bluetooth 5.0 seriously needs to improve pairing and connectivity. The standard has been around for years and you’d think by now it would be a simple, effortless process to pair Bluetooth devices but it’s still a royal pain. Apple’s new AirPods, announced alongside the iPhone 7, use Bluetooth, but thanks to some software and hardware tricks the pairing is delightfully easier. I have yet to experience AirPods for myself, but if it’s anything like what early reviewers are claiming, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group should take note.
Pairing AirPods to a compatible Apple device is as simple as holding those AirPods up to the device for recognition and then clicking Connect on screen. Done. Regular Bluetooth still requires either going into the settings of one device, pressing and holding some awkwardly placed button on another, flashing indicator lights and sounds… it’s anything but consistent or easy.
You’d think by now it would be a simple, effortless process to pair Bluetooth devices but it’s still a royal pain.
If the wireless world, especially wireless audio, is ever going to trump wired connections, the connectivity part of needs drastic improvement.
Once Bluetooth is finally connected, it needs to stay connected. Bluetooth connections always seem to be flaky at best, especially when audio comes in and drops out every so often. 5.0 needs to stabilize.
Even worse is when you accidentally walk out of range with one Bluetooth device connected to another and then all of a sudden lose that connection. That technological limitation isn’t my gripe, it’s the awful process that involves trying to get both devices to work together again. This often requires having to unpair both and pair them or shut off Bluetooth on one device but not the other. It’s absurd.
Bluetooth connections always seem to be flaky at best.
Farther range would somewhat mitigate this problem and luckily the Bluetooth Special Interest Group already announced that is coming with Bluetooth 5.0. Alas, there are no specifics on just how much better the range is, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Intelligent Proximity Detection
This feature in particular is a bit more of a luxury, but I don’t see why it’s not feasible at this point. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stay connected to several Bluetooth devices and have them detect and respond automatically based on how far away you are?
With proximity detection, Bluetooth devices would be able to automatically switch without me thinking about it. I could be listening to some music in one room through Bluetooth speakers. Then, if I bring my iPhone into my room, I want the devices to recognize my headphones are actually closer to me now, so music should start playing through those instead.
I imagine this may actually involve some technological software improvements on streaming devices like smartphones too, but Bluetooth itself must play a role.