updated 12:55 pm EST, Sun December 11, 2011
AirPlay to get Bluetooth based on conference talk
Apple during a Made For iPod summit in its contract manufacturing base of Shenzhen has revealed that it's hoping for AirPlay support over Bluetooth. Reported by MacOtakara as frustrated with the lack of licensed devices, Apple was said to be supplying a new iPod Accessory Protocol (IAP) authentication chip that would let accessories take advantage of the shorter-range wireless for easy playback. It touted the iPhone 4S' Bluetooth 4.0+HS support as being particularly useful for very low-power devices like health care monitors and certain game controllers.
The aim was reportedly to expand adoption by as much as seven times. Only two percent of Made For iPod devices were AirPlay-capable, Apple said, implying that it wanted 14 percent of accessories to go wireless, using IAP over Bluetooth if Wi-Fi wasn't practical.
A shift of the sort wouldn't be surprising but was also technically impractical for Apple until now. Before the iPhone 4S and the newest MacBook Air models, Apple had stopped at Bluetooth 2.0. At 3Mbps, it would only have enough bandwidth for a limited amount of audio.
Bluetooth 4.0+HS includes a feature first shown in Bluetooth 3.0 that will 'piggyback' on Wi-Fi for the actual transfer, making it possible to stream higher-quality audio or video. AirPlay is potentially better than simply relying on basic standards like A2DP, since it could eliminate a number of hassles around discovery and pairing.