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Bluetooth 5 to debut next week with 4X speed, 2X range of Bluetooth 4.2

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group on Friday pegged an official June announcement date for Bluetooth 5, a next-generation near-range wireless transmission technology set to feature substantial performance gains over the existing Bluetooth 4.2 protocol.




As SIG's Core Specification Working Group puts the finishing touches on the Bluetooth 5 standard ahead of expected industry adoption later this year, Executive Director Mark Powell in an email today said the new specification will be formally announced on June 16. Powell says the new spec quadruples the speed and doubles the range of the latest Bluetooth 4.2 version.

In addition, Bluetooth 5 adds "significantly more capacity" to advertising transmissions, which in turn allows device manufacturers to create more sophisticated connectivity systems like beacon or location-based services. As ArsTechnica explains, advertising packets sent out by a Bluetooth device contain small bits of information to be detected and decoded by other Bluetooth-capable devices, even if those devices are not paired.

For example, Apple peripherals like the Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad show up by name on a host Mac scanning for nearby accessories. Apple also uses data rich packets to power Handoff and iBeacon technology.

With Bluetooth 5, SIG decided to modify traditional naming conventions by dropping the usual version and point number, a move designed to simplify marketing efforts. Tech branding can at time be confusing for consumers, for example Bluetooth 4.0 also goes by the monikers Bluetooth LE, BLE and Bluetooth Smart, among other manufacturer-specific variations.

Powell did not reveal an exact launch timeline for Bluetooth 5, referencing only the second half of 2016 "and beyond." Based on past release schedules the new spec should begin trickling into consumer products late this year or in early 2017.

As a Promoter Member of Bluetooth SIG, and with an engineer sitting on its board of directors, Apple is consistently one of the first major manufacturers to adopt new revisions.