Bluetooth 5: Quadruple the range, double the speed

Beacons and internet of things devices will have a lot more bandwidth to work with.

Bluetooth is so ubiquitous, it's easy to forget it's still an evolving technology. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) defines the standard, and late last year teased what's coming in the next major version change since 2009. Today, the body shared a bit more about what we can expect from the release of Bluetooth 5, expected in late 2016 or early 2017. For starters, the next version will quadruple the range of connections and double their speeds, too, with no increase in power consumption over the current, low-energy standard.

The immediate benefits of these particular improvements are quite easy to grasp. Your next Bluetooth speaker shouldn't stutter when you accidentally take your phone with you into the kitchen, for example, and your next smartwatch should receive those push notifications that bit quicker, thanks to more bandwidth for data transfer. This becomes a lot more important when internet of things devices and Bluetooth beacons enter the conversation, though.

Bluetooth devices that broadcast information, as opposed to the kind you pair with, are becoming much more common, independent and easier to communicate with. Bluetooth 5 increases broadcasting capacity eight-fold, meaning much more data can be sent (and received) in a single interaction. Instead of a Bluetooth beacon pinging your phone with an URL that then gives you more info on a museum exhibit, for instance, it could do that and pinpoint your indoor location... and send you a discount voucher for the gift shop, all in the one blast.

The Bluetooth SIG isn't in the business of dreaming up specific applications for the technology, though. Instead, it's interested in improving things like range and data capacity, and letting everyone else dream up the new applications and connected devices.