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How Bluetooth 4.2 will make your home smarter


Bluetooth 4.2

The Bluetooth 4.2 standard was announced back in December, but it's back in the news with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

That's because these two high-end phablets are the first smartphones to include Bluetooth 4.2.

So what exactly is Bluetooth 4.2? Well, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, "Bluetooth 4.2 makes Bluetooth Smart even smarter, faster and the ideal wireless technology for the Internet of Things."

But what exactly does all that mean?

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Note 5

Galaxy note 5

Enabling IoT

Bluetooth 4.2 enables devices to connect directly to the internet over a Bluetooth connection through IPv6/6LoWPAN. It needs no got-between device.

This instantly makes Bluetooth a far more useful connection standard in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).

Essentially, it means that Bluetooth-equipped devices can communicate directly and quickly with one another. That includes smart home devices such as lights, locks, thermostats, and any other household appliance that offers remote control over an internet connection.

With Bluetooth 4.2, the standard can essentially become the very foundation for the fledgling Internet of Things.

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Improving Bluetooth Smart

The concept of Bluetooth Smart is at the heart of Bluetooth 4.2, and it's much improved with it.

Bluetooth Smart is the brand name attributed to a specific strand of the standard that came about with Bluetooth 4.0. It particularly refers to the wireless connection standard's newfound low-power capabilities. Bluetooth Smart enables connectivity between simple, compact, and often self-powered electronic devices like healthcare and fitness trackers, as well as smart home devices.

With Bluetooth 4.2, such Bluetooth Smart devices are even more secure, with FIPS-compliant encryption keeping confidential data safe. It's also a lot tougher for outside parties to track Bluetooth Smart devices unless permission is granted by the user.

Bluetooth Smart devices will also consume even less power than before.

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Faster and more stable

Bluetooth 4.2 also improves the data transfer speeds over Bluetooth connections by as much as two-and-a-half times, while packet size has increased by ten times. This will lead to significantly faster and more stable firmware updates for Bluetooth Smart devices.

It should also be noted that Bluetooth 4.2 doesn't replace Bluetooth 4.0 (or indeed 4.1). Rather, it extends the functionality of those earlier standards.

As a result, there shouldn't be any compatibility issues with any existing Bluetooth gear. Having said that, in order to benefit from that aforementioned data transfer speed and packet size increases, as well as the internet connectivity, fresh hardware will be required.

What about smartphones?

As you've probably discerned by now, the improvements brought about by Bluetooth 4.2 don't really add that much to smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. They're really more concerned with simpler smart devices operating under the Bluetooth Smart brand.

What it will add is an extra layer of security to a phone. It will no longer we quite so easy to exploit your phone's open Bluetooth connection when out and about, nor will so-called 'beacons' in retail spaces be able to make contact or track you without your approval. There are the usual bug fixes and efficiency improvements that any update brings, too.

But in terms of general features, you probably won't notice any difference when hooking your Note 5 up to your usual Bluetooth headset or speakers.

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