back to article Bluetooth 5.0 emerges, ready to chew on the internet of things

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has officially adopted Bluetooth 5 as the standard's new specification. The announcement is a bit of a rubber-stamping exercise, as version 5's specs were revealed back in June 2016. This is therefore more of a “go forth and adopt” moment than a “oh wow, check out the new standard” …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    Can't wait

    for meshed IoT, then my IoT can hack my distant neighbor's IoT via the mesh without interference from secure devices.

    1. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Great if reliable, but really needs mesh too

      BT mesh is what I'm really interested in because existing mesh radio 'standards' like Z-Wave are too damned expensive and probably not secure enough; it must have decent _upgradeable_ security, possibly using a session key exchange like HTTPS with secure access control and possibly a pairing white-list, and provide enough compulsory interfaces/APIs to be useful.

      BT mesh should be included in BT5 too, so that we don't need extra hardware and pointless extra interfacing for this, and can use more devices as bridging nodes.

  2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Reliability?

    I am I alone in finding Bluetooth kind of hit and miss? It always seems to be about 85% reliable.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Reliability?

      Same here. I used to find Bluetooth a bit flaky, so it's a case of 'once bitten, twice shy'. These days though, depending upon the two devices, it can be pretty solid. However, Mr Rueger and myself can't be the only people who have some residual mistrust of BT's reliability.

      For applications like smartwatches, where one needs to trust that notifications on a phone are passed on to a watch (or key fob, or headphones), reliability is crucial. 85%, to use your number, just isn't good enough.

      My Huawei phone connects to my cheap Tesco BT speaker reliably, but my Sony phone refused to connect to a Ford Transit stereo on occasion. I've heard a lot of criticism of Smartwatches, but I haven't read of many complaints of patchy BT connection on the better known brands (i.e Samsung phone > Samsung watch, Apple > Apple, etc), so I get the impression that BT can be reliable these days if implemented properly.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Reliability?

      Same here. Most implementations barely work. Frequency hopping not right, audio buffering is broken, not quite speaking the same dialect for multimedia control, skipping important features, or just causing kernel panics. Apple seems to be trying hard to kill BT by modifying it to only work with other Apple devices. AOSP devices keep having old bugs come back over and over despite open source developers working hard to kill them.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Reliability?

        Been streaming Netflix on my Windows laptop for a while. It has a Hell of a time; losing sync, or slipping into HSP mode even with the mic disabled.

        Got a Nexus tablet, started watching on that and haven't had a single glitch. Not one.

        I'd guess that many problems are implementation-dependent.

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Reliability?

        I could never get my phone to work reliably with my satnav. Handsfree kits seemed to work with some fiddling, but you had to fiddle again every time you started them up. BLE seems a little bit better - I have a few devices that often work - but still suffer from unexplained occasional inabilty to see each other. Coding for it still seems overcomplicated.

        @Kevin McMurtie - although I have some sympathy with your view that Apple are doing nonstandard things, the apple keyboard and mouse are the only BT devices that work reliably (less some battery problems). Maybe they're fixing the protocol bugs ?

        I think it's OK for toys, but not for things you rely on. And the industry seems determined to deny the problems - lots of exciting new devices (fsvo exciting) but no acknowledgement that it often just doesn't work.

        I also hate standards that change every year or so - BT1..5, 1..5G phones .. I'd rather have slow, reliable connections than a change of hardware every couple of years.

    3. oldtaku
      FAIL

      Re: Reliability?

      It is a giant [bleep]-pile of a protocol. It was only intended to connect one phone to one wireless headset with crappy speech only audio quality and they've since erected a giant tottering artifice on this tiny little foundation.

      It won't ever work reliably in general, and it can't ever work reliably in general.

      Sometimes you find two devices where the people who wrote the BT stacks and did the hardware were in sync with each other and it does mostly work - the Wii controllers were BT but Nintendo had total control over both ends so they were very reliable. The PS3 DualShock controllers would drop out semi-regularly, but the PS4 DS4 controllers seem pretty solid.

      Two random devices from different manufacturers? Total pot luck. Sometimes you get lucky and it's pretty good. Sometimes it doesn't work at all. Usually it works mostly.

  3. ksb1972

    Is it still called an industry standard if

    a prominent manufacturer's implementation only works with its own devices?

    I'm recalling the frustrating experience of trying to Bluetooth a photo from an Android phone to an iPhone (admittedly before the days of popular cross platform chat apps) and failing miserably.

    No prizes for guessing which side didn't want to play ball?

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Is it still called an industry standard if

      "No prizes for guessing which side didn't want to play ball?"

      Still doesn't. Fricking annoying.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Is it still called an industry standard if

      You're Bluetoothing it wrong. You need to send the photo from the Android phone via Bluetooth to a MacBook which does work and from there send it via iTunes to the iPhone. Don't forget the dongle if it's a new MacBook.

      It just works.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Is it still called an industry standard if

        iOS has never supported the Bluetooth file transfer profile. I believe files can be transferred between devices with the use of a 3rd party app (such as 'Bump'), which is how I'm assuming how pocket-sized wireless dye-sub printers connect to iPhones.

        Of all of my iPhone-owning mates, I've only heard one friend complain about this issue in ten years. Not surprising really - I've used the BT file transfer on my Android phone once, maybe twice in the same period. I'm not saying it isn't frustrating when you stumble upon the limitation, though! :)

        - https://www.quora.com/Why-does-iPhone-not-pair-with-other-non-Apple-devices-via-Bluetooth-to-transfer-files with link to iOS list of supported profiles:

        - https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204387

  4. Denarius Silver badge
    Coat

    Wonderful, just wonderful

    My devices now have to live in a Faraday cage, except for old ones. Blackhats will love this. Wasn't bluetooth just for a personal network, not a small LAN ? That's what WiFi is for. However, ITIRC an article 3 or more years back on ElReg arguing that as the Bluetooth working groups have got their act together much better than the WiFi groups it is likely bluetooth will eventually overtake WiFi as local network technology of choice.

    However, IOT lack of security will probably flood the networks with so much "traffic" ISPs will be DOSed out of service so maybe it is a self healing mesh network. Mines the one with Cat 4 cable in pocket

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT remains OFF on all my devices

    Once bitten etc

    The BT on a Galaxy 6 won't pair with my Car. Nor does the WiFi nor does the wired connection???? WTF?

    My iPhone 5s pairs with my car but drops while taking a call. The only solution is to go wired which sorta defeats the point.

    Yet a cheapo Nokia Windows Phone works faultlessly. Not enough use to warrant suffering with Windows mobile.

    apparently the Car works to the spec and the other devices don't quite and .... Go figure.

    My Printer broadcasts on BT but nothing will connect to it.

    The iPhone allows me to use hands free so it gets used but it is all a bit of a kludge IMHO

    BT 5? Meh!

  6. John Sturdy
    Big Brother

    This could worry the spies

    If you get a large enough mesh, it will increase the communication that avoids going via ISPs, and hence reduce the amount of storing and filtering.

    On the other hand, it's a radio protocol, and a published one at that, and so implicitly observable by anyone who joins the mesh.

    I wonder which way that will play out? (My guess is neither; that areas of mesh won't grow large enough for this to be much of an effect.)

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: This could worry the spies

      If the probability of any two BT devices communicating is the aforementioned 85%, the probability of 3 in a chain is 72%, 4 is 61% etc. And then there's the path back. I don't think any mesh is going to be big.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Bluetooths?

    Blueteeth? I dunno...

  8. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Old hat

    Hams have been using QRP for long distance comms for decades. Hook a bluetooth device to a decent sized** parabolic dish in China, and it could probably connect to a phone in New York via Moonbounce.

    ** http://cdn.phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2016/1-chinacomplet.jpg

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Old hat

      I doubt it. Most current protocols have severe limits on propagation times intended to try to reduce the already over-long timeouts when it breaks. It's likely that a path like that (2-3 seconds) is too slow even if you have enough signal (you might have parabolics at both ends but the moon is the opposite of a parabola and spreads the signal out).

  9. DougS Silver badge

    Wish they would concentrate on tightening the spec

    Who needs higher data rates when it is not always reliable even for low speed devices like a keyboard? Fix the problems in the spec that make those things happen, make it no play well with 2.4 GHz wifi etc. and make THAT BT 5.0. Let 5.0 devices drop back to older standards when necessary, but have the 5.0 spec drop all the baggage from older standards that made it not work as well.

    Then if you had all 5.0 gear it would just work. If they want to know how, just ask Apple since this is basically what they did to their devices to make them work reliably with each other since the Bluetooth spec is just a giant steaming pile of one turd laid upon another that's a total crapshoot when it comes to interoperability between two random devices.

    Making Bluetooth go faster is like sticking a hemi engine in a Yugo. When it works it'll go real fast, so long as you do anything unexpected, like wanting to stop or turn!

  10. Tannin

    Bluetooth 29

    Can't wait for Bluetooth 29. As you know, Bluetooth 29 is expected to be the first one which actually works nearly all the time in most (possibly even all!) permutations and combinations and doesn't suffer from lag, cut out unexpectedly, demand enough CPU cycles to heat a small room, or contribute to the incidence of computer rage and clinical depression in computer technicians and other humans. (OK, near-humans.)

    Industry experts expect Bluetooth 29 to be announced to coincide with the dawn of the 22nd Century and be available in shops soon after that. If anyone still uses Bluetooth then. If they still have computers then. If they still have shops them.

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