Bluetooth 4.1 to offer improved connections, will be available on existing iOS devices

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the ratification of Bluetooth 4.1, which will enable current devices -- like the iPhone, iPad and latest Macs -- to have a more seamless experience with "Smart Bluetooth" accessories like heart rate monitors, speakers and more.

Bluetooth 4.0 (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE) was a huge step forward over Bluetooth 2.1. BLE connections allowed much more reliable pairing with devices and a huge improvement in battery life. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group says Bluetooth 4.1 will be an "evolutionary" advance over the current Bluetooth 4.0. There will be three main advantages for both consumers and developers:

  • Coexistence -- engineered to work seamlessly and cooperatively with the latest generation cellular technologies like LTE. Bluetooth and LTE radios can communicate in order to ensure transmissions are coordinated and therefore reduce the possibility of near-band interference. The coordination between the two technologies happens automatically, while the consumer experiences the high quality they expect.

  • Better Connections -- provides manufacturers with more control over creating and maintaining Bluetooth connections by making the reconnection time interval flexible and variable. This improves the consumer experience by allowing devices to reconnect automatically when they are in proximity of one another. The consumer can leave the room and, upon returning, two recently used devices reconnect without user intervention.

  • Improved Data Transfer -- Bluetooth Smart technology provides bulk data transfer. For example, through this new capability, sensors, which gathered data during a run, bike ride or swim, transfer that data more efficiently when the consumer returns home.

The gist of all these advances means Bluetooth is gearing up to be the connection technology of choice in the increasing world of the "Internet of Things" (IoT). The IoT refers to any device you can think of communicating with not only your computer or smartphone, but your other devices as well. These devices can include anything from your pedometer to your toaster to your shower head.

In the short run, however, Bluetooth 4.1 will allow for current devices to hold much better connections with their accessories, making automatic reconnection to those accessories easier, and allow developers to build more advanced features -- like timed connects -- into apps that work with Bluetooth devices. Best of all, any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Mac you have right now with a Bluetooth 4.0 chip in it will become Bluetooth 4.1-enabled whenever Apple rolls out a software update for it.