Here’s How Bluetooth Will be Getting a Much Needed Upgrade in 2020

These new features will be integrated into the upcoming Bluetooth standard which will be announced later this year.

Tech News
3 min read
Bluetooth headphones have become popular over the past few years.

Bluetooth has been a multi-tasking tool for digital devices, allowing you to transfer data and pair devices to play music among others.

But today we’re talking about the audio side of Bluetooth, which has become commonplace with the advent of wireless music accessories over the past 12 months or so.

The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 in Las Vegas has come out with an upgrade for the tech, which will improve the battery life of your wireless devices as well as offer better quality audio.

They have done this by changing the codec (software that encodes audio files) that will be powering the next Bluetooth standard, most likely 5.2, which will be detailed later this year.

Bluetooth SIG has unveiled LE Audio, touting it as the next generation of the Bluetooth Audio standard. The group claims LE Audio will enhance Bluetooth audio performance, add support for hearing aids, and introduce audio sharing.

According to the industry group, the Bluetooth specifications that define LE Audio are expected to be released through the first half of 2020, while the devices supporting this standard are not expected to ship before mid-2021 onwards.

“With close to one billion Bluetooth audio products shipped last year, wireless audio is the largest Bluetooth market," Mark Powell, CEO, Bluetooth SIG, highlighted in a statement this week.

LE Audio comes with a new codec called LC3 (Low Complexity Communications Codec) which consumes less power to deliver higher audio quality, even at low data rates.

Here’s How Bluetooth Will be Getting a Much Needed Upgrade in 2020

As you can see above, Bluetooth using the LC3 codec delivers higher audio quality compared to the current SBC (sub-band codec).

Wireless Earbuds to Perform Better

These new upgrades will make a huge difference in how the wireless earbuds like Apple AirPods will perform. With LE Audio, Bluetooth will support multi-stream audio which will ensure that music is transmitted to both the earbuds to deliver improved audio output.

Wireless earbuds will get a new lease of life.
Wireless earbuds will get a new lease of life.
(Photo: The Quint)
“Using this new feature, you can improve the performance of truly wireless earbuds, including a better stereo imaging experience, more seamless use of voice control services, and smoother transitions between multiple audio source devices.”
Bluetooth SIG post

With most wireless devices now getting built-in support for voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, the multi-stream feature will make sure you can listen to music, as well as give a command to the assistant without facing any lag or disturbance.

And more importantly, the new design reference will allow manufacturers to use smaller battery units, enabling them to look at new design options for these devices.

Picture of wireless earbuds for representation. 
Picture of wireless earbuds for representation. 
(Photo: The Quint)
“Developers will be able to leverage this power savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in cases where current battery life is enough, reduce the form factor by using a smaller battery.”
Manfred Lutzky, Fraunhofer IIS

So, these are basically the new features coming to Bluetooth in the coming months. Let’s see what the future of Bluetooth audio offers and if the upcoming devices can live up to the hype.

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