The Bluetooth Special Interest Group — the not-for-profit collective responsible for the development of new standards for the wireless technology — has just officially adopted version 4.2 of the Bluetooth core specification. The new Bluetooth version has measures to increase privacy and speed, and it also brings IP connectivity to devices that support it, meaning sensors and other smart devices can connect straight to the internet.
That connectivity theoretically makes home automation a lot easier, with smart products such as light bulbs, thermostats, and door sensors able to access to the internet without the use of another go-between device. The BSIG says the new standard will scale with the market and let developers make devices that can easily communicate with each other, making Bluetooth 4.2 "the foundation for the Internet of Things".
NOT ALL OF VERSION 4.2'S FEATURES WILL WORK WITH OLDER BLUETOOTH ADAPTERS
The new version also makes it more difficult to track devices through their Bluetooth connections. People shopping in stores with Apple's iBeacons — low-power Bluetooth transmitters that can guide customers around — can't be tracked if they're using version 4.2, unless they specifically give permission for the beacons to interact with their device. Bluetooth 4.2 uses less power and is quicker, too, allowing data transfer up to two and a half times faster than earlier versions.
Bluetooth 4.2 has clear advances over its predecessors, but Ars Technica reports that "some, but not all" of the new specification's features will be available to those with older devices. Many Bluetooth adapters included in modern devices are configured to work with Bluetooth 4.0, and although a software update previously meant devices using such adapters could also use version 4.1, a Bluetooth SIG spokesperson said that to take advantage of the increased speed and packet size of version 4.2, a hardware update would be required.