The fourth version of Bluetooth was released almost six years ago now. Its main focus was lower power, which was very important at the time. Bluetooth and WiFi were major energy sinks for mobile devices, and smartphones were taking off. This was also during the first wave of tablets.

The Bluetooth special interest group has now announced Bluetooth 5. The headlining features are double range and quadruple speed for low-powered Bluetooth connections. (Update, June 13th @ 1:15pm: Bluetooth's PR agency contacted me, said the source's numbers were backwards, and asked me to update to the correct ones. It's double speed and quadruple range for low-powered Bluetooth connections.) This is obviously useful for a data communication protocol, although it is difficult to tell whether low bandwidth was an issue for many devices. It is not exactly something that hardware vendors would publicly complain about.

They also intend to allow certain services to operate without pairing. The open letter says that it is intended to be used with “beacons” and “location-based services” but fails to elaborate. Instead, it points to their Discover Blue: London event on June 16th, so I expect that will be expanded upon there. Part of me is concerned that connectionless could turn into “operates without user control,” but, ultimately, the device is responsible for what it executes. There shouldn't be a way that a protocol, without the OS being involved, could force an interaction — at least not without a backlash against the OS for permitting it.

Again, we'll find out more in about a week, on June 16th.