From Privacy to Connectivity, Bluetooth Is About to Get Some Serious Upgrades

2 min read

By 2020, an estimated 28 billion devices of all kinds will be connected to the Internet of Things. And it looks like Bluetooth – the short-range wireless connection between these devices – is due for a major upgrade.

Enter Bluetooth 4.2, an update to its core specifications with new features that, the organization that manages it says, make Bluetooth "smarter, faster and the ideal wireless technology for the Internet of Things."

The updated feature most closely related to the anticipated explosion of the Internet of Things is the new internet connectivity options. Many Bluetooth devices rely on Wi-Fi or another wireless device to go online. Bluetooth 4.2 adds support for the newer “IPv6 protocol,” which will connect more directly to the Internet -- something that will be especially important for connecting smart devices like thermostats and refrigerators.

Related: Twitter Unveils Improved Tools to Report Harassment

While you can download Bluetooth 4.2 now, the connectivity features are not yet available, with IPv6 expected to roll out in December and Bluetooth Smart Internet gateways (GATT) becoming available in early 2015.

Another important update is new privacy features that help block unwanted devices from accessing your information. Specifically, the new features will be able to block beacons tracking your location. For example, unless you opt into Apple's iBeacon, you now won't receive unwanted push notifications when you walk by an Apple Store.

Bluetooth 4.2 also has some updates for people who shrug off privacy concerns and are uninterested in the Internet of Things. With the update, data will supposedly synch 2.5 times faster, making for a more power-efficient process. 

Related: Engineers Are Developing Tech That Could Make Airplanes More Human

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