Apple will reportedly add support for Smart Bluetooth, a.k.a. Bluetooth 4.0, thanks to a new chip designed for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Apple announced the certification chip at a conference in Shenzen, China, which hosted roughly 2,000 members of the company's MFI (made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) program.
Manufactured by Broadcom, Bluetooth 4.0 functions on a small chip that consumes little power, but packs a very powerful punch.
The BCM4330 implements the highly sophisticated Enhanced Collaborative Coexistence radio coexistence algorithms and hardware mechanisms, allowing for an extremely collaborative Bluetooth coexistence scheme along with coexistence support for external radios (such as GPS, WiMax, or Ultra Wide-band radio technologies, as well as cellular radios) and single shared antenna (2.4 GHz antenna for Bluetooth and WLAN), Broadcom said. As a result, enhanced overall quality for simultaneous voice, video, and data transmission on a handheld system is achieved.
The new chip will allow future iOS devices to stream content to and from their device using the Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which provides wireless connections without the need for Wi-Fi or 3G. Apple previously integrated Bluetooth Smart into its new iPhone 4S, and has also added the function to the latest iterations of the MacBook Air laptops and Mac Mini computers. Leveraging Bluetooth 4.0 technology, Apple could potentially implement motion-sensitive controls and even Siri onto its Apple TV platform, which could soon become a standalone Apple iTV device.
Bluetooth Smart devices are designed to gather a specific type of information - are all the windows on my house locked, what is my insulin level, how much do I weigh today? - and send it to a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, Bluetooth wrote in a press release. Examples include heart-rate monitors, blood-glucose meters, smart watches, window and door security sensors, key fobs for your car, and blood-pressure cuffs-the opportunities are endless.
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By integrating IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and single-stream 802.1 n (MAC/baseband/radio), as well as an FM radio receiver and transmitter, Bluetooth Smart can sync with wireless technologies, such as Apple TV, in about 6 milliseconds.
This almost-instant connection, which can also leverage the gyroscopes and accelerometers within the iOS devices, opens up the potential for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to become remote controls and even game controllers for an Apple iTV device. For instance, if you play a driving game and you turn your phone, the car on the screen may be able to mirror the motion. It's also possible that with the iPad 3's new display, which reportedly doubles the pixel density of the iPad 2, Apple TV games could also be mirrored and played directly on the device as well.
The low latency connection of Bluetooth 4.0 is important for gaming, but it should also reduce the lag experienced in the Airplay mirroring feature in iOS 5, which shows any image on an iPhone or iPad on the Apple TV. Bluetooth 4.0 could also be the key to a completely interconnected system between iOS devices and a possible Apple iTV.
This recent report aligns perfectly with Jobs' vision of the Apple iTV, which was exposed in Walter Isaacson's biography of the late Apple founder.
I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use, Jobs told Isaacson. It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.
Jobs' goal was to reduce the amount of clutter in the TV watching experience, namely in the number of remotes needed to control the cable channels, as well as peripherals like DVD players and video game systems. Bluetooth 4.0, when used with Apple's iOS devices, could eliminate the need for separate TV and DVD remotes and combine all television needs into a simple interface.
If Apple can port Siri and motion controls via Bluetooth 4.0 to its Apple TV or iTV system, it may have a chance to compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which recently announced a deal with Verizon's FiOS cable and Internet service to bring a bundle of 26 live channels with Kinect voice and gesture support to the gaming console. Verizon is now offering a new triple-play bundle for TV, Internet and phone service, which starts at $90 and includes 12 months of Xbox Live Gold and the recently released game, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Jobs' biographer, Walter Isaacson, believes we won't see the iTV device for a long time.
He told me it was very theoretical, he said. These were theoretical things they were thinking about in the future.
In October, Bloomberg reported Jeff Robbin, Apple's VP of consumer applications, was heading a team to build the Apple iTV. Robbin, who joined the Cupertino, Calif.-based company more than a decade ago, previously helped Apple create the iPod and the iTunes platform.