AirPlay, a proprietary protocol by Apple allowing for worry-free wireless streaming of audio, video, photos and related metadata between certified devices, is about to gain an enhanced support for the wireless Bluetooth standard via a new chip, Japanese blog Macotakara has learned. Apple apparently announced the new certification chip at a Shenzen, China conference organized for two thousand members of their MFI (Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod) program. The company is aiming to expand the market for wireless iOS accessories by a factor of seven by taking the IAP via Bluetooth (iPod Accessory Protocol) – first implemented in iOS 5 – to the Bluetooth 4.0 heights.
The new piece of silicon will enable future wireless accessories certified for use with the iPod, iPhone or iPad to stream content to and from a host iOS device using Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, in addition to WiFi AirPlay support. AirPlay over Bluetooth mitigates the need to connect to a WiFi network when AirPlaying your music, photos and movies. This feature comes into play when traveling, for example, or using your device in areas with no WiFi connectivity.
AirPlay already features a limited support for Bluetooth in that it can stream audio using the AD2P protocol. Apple has become a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group board of directors back in June so they’re in a position to influence the development of the Bluetooth wireless standard.
Taking into account that Macotakara has had its share of misses in the past, this development really makes sense. iPhone 4S is the first handheld device from Apple to feature support for the new Bluetooth 4.0 wireless standard. It lets the handset connect to the mid-2011 MacBook Airs and Mac minis and future Bluetooth Smart Ready devices at an extremely low-power and low latency mode up to 50 meters away.
Instead of taking up to six seconds to pair like current Bluetooth implementations, Bluetooth 4.0 takes just six milliseconds – virtually instantly. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Think beyond Bluetooth headphones acting as an iPhone camera trigger.
One awesome possibility is the addition of Bluetooth 4.0 to the iPod nano. Low latency is especially important for gaming and healthcare accessories, so expect some big strides in those markets. Bluetooth 4.0 should also help reduce the lag when using the AirPlay mirroring feature in iOS 5 which lets you stream whatever is shown on your iOS device to your television set through the Apple TV set-top box. That’s only scratching the surface, though…
Sources recently told 9to5Mac that an upcoming Apple TV refresh will bring Bluetooth 4.0 support via the Broadcom BCM4330 chip. If this pans out, the new Apple TV will enable some interesting uses. One possibility includes voice control via Siri, with your iPhone 4S acting as a remote Bluetooth 4.0-enabled microphone to take Siri commands. Another possibility is a dedicated, low-latency touch controller for Apple’s set-top box for comfortable gaming on the big screen. It could be similar to the Remote application that lets you control your Apple TV using an iOS device. This is just scratching the surface as the many benefits of the new Bluetooth 4.0 standard – of which low power consumption and low latency are the two crucial differentiators – should spark the creation of seamless, more battery-friendly AirPlay accessories for Apple’s mobile devices. One thing is certain: Apple added support for Bluetooth 4.0 to iPhone 4S for a reason.
- Apple tells MFI’s to get busy building next-gen iOS accessories with Airplay over Bluetooth 4.0 (9to5mac.com)
- Upcoming Apple TV to feature low-power Bluetooth 4.0 technology, opens door to new, more advanced input devices (9to5mac.com)
- iPhone 4S a ‘Bluetooth Smart Ready’ device as Bluetooth 4.0 gets rebranded (9to5mac.com)