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back to article WTF is... Bluetooth 4.0?

Apple's iPhone 4S, which went on sale last week, is the first phone to support version four of the Bluetooth standard. That makes it something of a flag-waver for the technology. But with most users happy to make do with Bluetooth 2 - Bluetooth 3 is out but seemingly little used - does this matter? And what the heck does …

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Silver badge
FAIL

Hopefully it's better than Apples old Bluetooth support.

As nothing (Android, Nokia, SE) could send anything to an iPhone or receive anything from an iPhone over Bluetooth last time I tried. However Iphone to iPhone worked fine unsurprisingly...

Seems like Apple like to even engineer their products with intentional interoperability problems to try and force more iPhone sales..

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Bronze badge

How old??

I have a year-old iphone4 and an ancient ipod touch, both of which perform flawlessly with an Ericsson bluetooth/fm radio handsfree dongle thingy. No problem whatever.

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Anonymous Coward

fud

from the google shill?

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Anonymous Coward

Same thing encountered here

I had similar problems trying to get an iPhone 3GS to talk to an HTC Desire via Bluetooth.

The same HTC Desire, another Android and an iMac would all communicate with no problems.The iPhone would only talk to the iMac.

Weird, never did find out why.

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Silver badge

Bluetooth Audio Profile != Bluetooth File Transfer

Until Apple sell their own locked down Bluetooth headsets that only work with Apple products, they will clearly support the open Bluetooth audio profile.

It was Bluetooth file transfers that only work iPhone to iPhone, and I think it was a 3GS, but I believe iPhone4 is also broken, and I would bet money that the 4s is the same, as it's clearly in Apple's interest to continue to lock people in.

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@Lallabalalla

What exactly do you manage to do with your Ericsson thingy?

Can you transfer things between it and your Apples?

Does it let you use an external keyboard on your Apples?

Will it report the GPS location of the Apple thingy over the bluetooth connection?

Will it share it's network connection for browsing or telnet?

Will it let you make a data telephone call like a modem?

Other Bluetooth thingies have done this since they came out; certainly my at least 4 year old Nokia did, while Apple thought Bluetooth meant "wireless headphone" and nothing else.

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FAIL

Re: How old??

Have you tried to send/receive files to/from another handset, one that isn't an iPhone? THAT is the thing that doesn't work. And yes, we tried to do this with an iPhone4.

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Stop

sorry

i'd say it was the shite android bluetooth stack. Ive had issue with androids and bluetooth whilst having none with my WM61.->6.5, andicent symbians and friends with iphones. My beamer hated androids dropping continuously and only android 2.0+ have worked im my ford convers+ all the other phones worked first time (and shared their phonebooks properly)

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FAIL

Hopefully its better than old Bluetooth at audio transmission :P

I think a lot of us who don't really care for our shoes to tell us how many steps we take per minute, it would be nice if you could simply let us know if we can listen to the music on our smartphones without annoying wires now?

I don't know how RegHardware can write up an article about Bluetooth 4, without bothering to mention data throughput rates... are not headsets the most sold Bluetooth products for smart phones?

Everybody who's ever tried to listen to music over a Bluethooth 2.1 EDR head phone knows that Bluetooth has been absolutely dismal at transferring stereo audio at reasonable quality.

As for interoperability; If not Apple, I'm sure somebody will come out with a Bluetooth 4 version that connects with stuff from other companies.

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WTF?

file transfer?

File transfer? Over bluetooth! Hey, about time - that would come in handy! I quite often take a photo on my iphone I want to bluetooth to a friend, so that would be useful.

Ah wait, I remember.. in the dim and distant past (before I went iphone), I was able to do this with my Nokia's and Sony Ericsson's..

Apple - striving to ensure you eventually forget about the freedom you once had.

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blah

because they got them from expansys

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Tired of bluetooth

If you just want to use a car kit or mono headset then OK usually no problem.

Anything more ambitious forget it you end up in driver version hell. I have a nice bluetooth stereo headset that works flawlessly on Windows 7 box A but refuses to play on Windows 7 box B. Even when the same dongle is moved from the working to non-working machine! You end up desperately scouring the internet forums for someone who allegedly got it working with a dodgy zip file from a Chinese web site.

Bluetooth is just not worth the effort.

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Anonymous Coward

i had some problems when using the same dongle between two computers. It was something to do with my phone recognising the dongle as paired (mac addresses and all that), but the computer not having 'seen' the phone before. The fact that the two computers had different names may have also been a factor

Unpairing and re-pairing solved it, but i havent gone back to original computer to see if swapping randomly works...

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Silver badge

OBEX is still part of Bluetooth 4.0, Apple.

The air-interface is only one part of the standard.

But hey, I just love to use my data allowance to email media files from my phone to an iPhone owner who's standing in front of me. It's the future, etc., etc.

Somewhat schizophrenically, Apple's implementation of Bluetooth on OSX is really top-notch.

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blame the os

Don't blame the technology for your operating system issues. Trust me on that. It comes from the anarchic windows bluetooth past. As ms somehow let everyone go with their own,there are still 3 standard bluetooth cores to support on windows. If you don't believe me plug it to any mac no matter what version it runs and see how it runs without any driver or zip file.

Not sure about linux but it should be similar. Even as of 2011 advanced software must still support widcomm and microsoft stack same time.

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Devil

Never had that problem

Oops... Forgot... I do not use wndows :)

I have had some minor niggles from one out of 5 bluetooth dongles I have.In the days before WiFi became ubiquitous on high end phones I used to maintain my local port of the bluetooth channel for Asterisk as well as use bluetooth for presence to give info to home automation. It works flawlessly. But not with windows.

Why? The usual story - nearly all BT dongles are Silicon Radio chipsets that do not need any special driver. Similarly, most laptops use Broadcom. Once again it does not need a driver. All in all there are 3-4 types of Bluetooth chippery out there so no need for a gazillion of drivers. Microsoft however, instead of shipping a unified driver (and updating the device database for it) has chosen to allow people without a clue to ship their own.

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Gold badge

Uh oh - security?

That's all good & well that it can set up such connections quickly, but I hope I have some control over that. The last thing I need is an iPhone handing off information to all and sundry without any control..

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Anonymous Coward

You already are.

If you have a 4s at least.

Even if your colleagues iPhone is locked, you can ask Siri to make free calls and send perverse texts to their mum.

We have had great fun in our office pranking the two people stupid enough to buy an IPhone 4s.

http://www.metro.co.uk/tech/879156-siri-security-flaw-allows-iphone-4s-to-be-controlled-even-if-locked

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Anonymous Coward

Funny you should say that, Fred...

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Boffin

Security Settings

BT has a "High Security" setting which forces the device to do "device pairing" before being able to connect to the other device. Some smartphones are even locked into said mode for security reasons.

You mean the iPhone can't do that?

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Devil

Nokia tech-

Soon Apple may start having to pay BallmerMafiaInc...

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Anonymous Coward

They already do

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Meh

4.0 legs good, 2.1 legs bad.

Bluetooth LE is a pretty good bit of tech and if it takes off as the low bitrate tech of choice in household appliances then sticking it in a smartphone or pokeslab could be quite cool. It's a constant source of shame to me that I can't glance at my nearest touchscreen and know the power consumption of my washing machine or the precise temperature of a towel rail.

OK. Not constant. But it would be mildly diverting for a couple of minutes.

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Anonymous Coward

Limited applications?

Why is Bluetooth only in such limited applications? - mostly phone headsets and phones (yes, I know the PS3 uses BT for the controllers. However, that is largely invisible to the end user).

Why are most of the wireless keyboards and mice using some proprietary RF link, rather than Bluetooth?

Why are Bluetooth to RS-232 adapters horribly expensive?

Why hasn't Bluetooth replaced X10 for remote control of lights and appliances?

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Standards, schmandards

A cynic might suggest that there's not much in it for keyboard manufacturers in making a Bluetooth desktop set, which would enable one part of it to be replaced easily with someone else's it, though there are certainly some out there that use Bluetooth.

The manufacturers would doubtless say that their systems are more robust than Bluetooth, which is better in such a popular and congested bit of airspace.

RS-232 adaptors? Cor blimey mate, don't get much call for those round here... as the serial port has largely withered away, at least outside specialist applications, perhaps no one sees a need to make these adaptors in the quantities that will be necessary to drive down prices.

As for X10, I think the pairing and range issues perhaps counted against Bluetooth there, and earlier versions could be considered a bit over-engineered - you don't really need the bandwidth that's offered.

In the control space, systems like Zigbee and Z-Wave have been trying to establish themselves as replacements for something like X10, though without a massive amount of impact so far - there are still depressingly few Z-Wave bits and bobs for the UK, for instance.

The faster set up time and low power capabilities of Bluetooth Low Energy could make it ideal for that sort of thing, but it'll be competing with all the other standards, and they'll have to create profiles, then get them into kit. Yep, it could be potentially great, if you could buy a new lightswitch and know it'll be compatible with your mobile phone. It could happen - but it's going to take a fair bit of time, I think.

And in the meantime, you might end up with a smart meter that has Zigbee, or a set top box that has Z-Wave; for a while at least, there's going to be plenty of scope for consumers to get thoroughly confused about which bits of kit will work together.

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Headmaster

Short answer: because that's what it was invented for.

Longer answer: it's actually used in a range of other applications from logistics to medical wireless to proprietary apps like the PS3 controller. They're just not as visible to the public as handsets and headsets and car kits. And before BLE it wasn't really a competitor to low bitrate control applications like X10. I've no idea why RS-232 adapters are expensive but would guess it's just lack of demand.

Billions of BT devices have been sold ... you make it sound as though it's been a flop when it's been one of the most successful technologies of the last decade.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Limited applications?

=> Why are most of the wireless keyboards and mice

=> using some proprietary RF link, rather than Bluetooth?

A few cents and some microamps. Issues that have been addressed in Bluetooth LE

=> Why are Bluetooth to RS-232 adapters horribly expensive?

Volume. Sales are small, so manufacturing costs are high.

=> Why hasn't Bluetooth replaced X10 for remote control

=> of lights and appliances?

As above. Cents and Microamps. "Single-mode" Bluetooth LE chips - that is, chips which only support, and are optimised for, Bluetooth LE, are coming to market and can now address these markets.

Posting as AC because I work in this industry so I don't wish to be seen as speaking on behalf of my employer (though they'd agree with my sentiments)

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Stop

other stuff

lego robots use bluetooth. Many cars use bluetooth integration too. I have a bluetooth K/B too (dell sold loads of them) although they are HID so dont work properly on androids - only winmo phones really (I dont have an iphone so I cant say but I doubt they work).

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Silver badge

A few reasons

PS3 and Wii both use Bluetooth controllers, but for typical domestic equipment control, an IR interface is sufficient, and far, far cheaper in component, IPR and Power terms.

Wireless keyboards use proprietary links because these protocols are much more power efficient. Bluetooth LE comes close to these systems, but has the added advantage of driver-free operation* and greater robustness from other ISM-band equipment (not because it's better, but because its popularity means it's more likely to be taken account of by a developer of any new ISM-band application).

* driver-free on non-Windows platforms, of course...

Bluetooth RS-232 adaptors are expensive partly because RS-232 is now a very specialised technology, but also because RS-232's +/- 12V signalling requires additional voltage multiplication, and as a niche interface, it's not practical to combine this function onto the cheap single IC that handles the rest of the Bluetooth interfacing.

Bluetooth's 10m range is inadequate for room control in large houses, and large houses are more likely to feature such automation. Plus, X10 is dirt cheap to make (if not to have installed) and has an installed base, a good range of equipment and large pool of installers. As a wired system it's also immune from ISM-band interference that increasingly plagues domestic settings (e.g., my "wireless" doorbell gets knocked out by, I think, a neighbour's security camera system).

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Gold badge

"More interestingly, the standard allows a device to use a computer or a phone to connect to its associated web service very simply. So a smart electricity meter might request that your computer establishes it a connection to send the latest reading to your power provider, for example."

If the power company wants to pass readings through my computer, they'll get SOME reading. How closely that resembles my actual power usage...? That's another matter. Hint to power companies: Don't pass your data through systems you don't own.

@Joe Harrison, don't use Windows then. I've had zero bluetooth-related problems with Ubuntu -- I've used speakers and headset, as well as bitpim via bluetooth. No problem! Note, the Bluetooth drivers for Windows that ship on CD with bluetooth dongles usually cost $$$ per copy, and so are locked to a particular bluetooth device by "serial number" (not sure if that's what it's called, it's pretty much a MAC address for bluetooth.) If you get the generic dongle that's serial is all 0's, no drivers for you. You might have a driver on "box B" that is tied to a different dongle.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Bluetooth always did suck

I've always hated bluetooth. When it works to pair a phone and a computer for net access, it's damn slow. But usually -

"Well, they can see each other but there's not option to do anything"

"Where's the connect to internet button"

"It looks like it's working until I actually try to send the file"

"For some reason the buttons on the headset work but no sound is coming out"

"They're just refusing to pair properly"

Aas a result, I've had BT capable phones for almost a decade, and I've used any means necessary to avoid having to use it for anything. Well, anything except "BlueProximity", which automatically performs an action like locking the screen when you walk away from your computer. That works ok I guess.

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FAIL

Bluetooth 4.0 is not the revolutionary hardware update that Apple may have you think. The truth is that most chips from 2.1 onwards are capable of of Low Energy or BLE as it's known in the industry. The change is simply firmware.

The power output is identical to 'standard' bluetooth, as the hardware is the same. This is also easily configurable, anywhere from -30dBm to +10dBm. Range has more to do with a decent antenna design to make sure the power is transmitted effectively, but just as importantly to make sure the receiver can listen.

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Boffin

BLE is NOT just a firmware change

> The truth is that most chips from 2.1 onwards are capable of of Low Energy or BLE as it's known in the industry. The change is simply firmware.

Sorry, wrong. Packet format is different, packet timing is different, encryption is different, even the modulation index of the physical packets is different. BLE is NOT the same at BT2.1. Any chip designed to make even a half-decent fist of 2.1 (in terms of implementation cost and power consumption) isn't going to be able to do BLE - certainly single-mode BLE - without hardware mods. BT2.1 was designed long before BLE saw the light of day. If a particular 2.1 chip *can* do BLE by firmware upgrade only, then that's by luck alone - the designers happened to make the right parameters configurable in firmware - and you shouldn't generalise from that particular case.

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iPhone bashers?

Just use e-mail/wi-fi to get your crap over to someone else with an iPhone or visa-versa. It's not like 3G and Wi-fi isn't plastered all over (especially in the UK).

I've never seen anyone in the last 3-4 years want to send something to me via Bluetooth. I'd call them a fuddy duddy if they did. Pervebook and several other social/cloud based sites and apps exist to spread your photos/videos to everyone.

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It's quick and simple

I use it a fair bit; only a couple of weeks ago, I was entertaining a gentleman caller and the simplest way to get the photos he'd taken was to send them via Bluetooth from his HTC to my Nokia; quick, very easy, no need to wait for slugging spam filters and internet connections to do their work. And no chance of anyone else seeing the pictures, either.

If I take snaps when out and about on my phone, again, it's simple and quick to just send them by BT to the laptop.

Sometimes I don't want to fiddle around uploading to a website, setting privacy options, and so on. I just want to get a picture or pictures from one device to another, easily and quickly. And Bluetooth, on many devices, is actually jolly good for doing that.

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Boffin

media-hopping wake-up calls?

Seeing as wifi sucks phone battery, it would be nice to have your phone power its wifi radio down and just wait for the router to give a wake-up call over BT if it wants to communicate.

Oooh look, iphone + airport gives amazing battery life.

It's probably also good enough for keyboards etc and would allow always-on services such as IM to function without needing to power up the wifi radio - only with airport...

All you need to do is associate a BT link with a wifi link and you're good to go.

Quick, to the patent office!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: media-hopping wake-up calls?

The patent office? Save your shoe leather. Been there, done that, several years ago.

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I agree with the poster that the lack of proper OBEX in iOS is annoying. I work in a very RF noisy environment where WiFi doesn't really work. When I take a photo of the whiteboard at the end of a meeting it would be nice to send it to other peoples' phones. Its an annoyance rather than a deal breaker though. I connect my phone to my laptop and send it from there.

I love bluetooth and have been using it for years. I used to use my old SE K750 with Saling Clicker to control my Mac remotely from across the room before the days of iPhones. I've done networking in GPRS days through my phone from the linux laptop I had at the time using PAN. I've even done it with a Zaurus. Now I get in my car and my iPhone connects to it. I can listen to music whilst I'm driving and have the tom tom app interrupt it when it needs to tell me something. Can even make calls through the car. Nothing special technologically just nice. No wires and seamless integration.

Now if only apple would make an extended version of their bluetooth keyboard. My track pad is wireless my keyboard is wired because I want a full one.

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Range?

Hmm, quotes of 100m or even 10m... has anyone every actually managed that?

When sending audio over bluetooth, whether from a mobile (tried a couple of different OS phones) or from a PC or a Sony audio-to-BT transmitter to various BT headsets, I've never achieved more than 3 or 4 metres and if your body/head is inbetween the transmitter and the receiver than the range is halved.

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Happy

Works for me

Using a Nokia Headset BH-214 and a Nokia E-66 I could listen to music in almost all my apartment.

Granted, not 10m in a straight line - but the signal would cross two brick walls and I still could use it.

Mind You. With my new Sony Xperia Arc this isn't possible. Neither with the grilfriend's Galaxy S2. Looks like the reputation of great reception Nokia has is well deserved...

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