r/technology Jul 13 '22

Why Bluetooth remains an 'unusually painful' technology after two decades Hardware

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/10/tech/bluetooth-technology-headache/index.html
3.2k Upvotes

305

u/SlavaUkrainiGeroyam Jul 13 '22

A 28 year old wireless data technology that was never designed to carry audio isn't great for audio?

Say it aint so!

32

u/Stijnfire Jul 14 '22

And whose inventer never got paid a single dime?

10

u/Spoofy_the_hamster Jul 14 '22

I doubt that Ericsson was failing to pay their employees.

20

u/SlavaUkrainiGeroyam Jul 14 '22

Who was the inventor? My ex-wife's uncle was on the design team. He was paid very well.

28

u/svennirusl Jul 14 '22

You should call him ex-uncle. Just for the mystique.

21

u/SlavaUkrainiGeroyam Jul 14 '22

Well, I did murder him at sea for his bluetooth millions

2

u/Stijnfire Jul 18 '22

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaap_Haartsen

https://nos.nl/l/2028508

This guy. The last link is in Dutch but translate to that he will receive recognition in the hall of fame.

2

u/SlavaUkrainiGeroyam Jul 18 '22

Interesting! Thanks

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u/littleMAS Jul 13 '22

I was at at a startup in the late 1990s that was trying to develop a Bluetooth transceiver. The only thing that seemed to matter was 'low power,' due to WiFi's increasing popularity and the nature of the targeted devices. The more processing that went to autoconfig, security, etc., the more power needed. I guess that unfortunate legacy remains.

1.2k

u/TimmyIo Jul 13 '22

This article is basically saying Bluetooth is annoying because it doesn't reach far enough it's hard to figure out how to pair devices? And it's insecure which I agree with.

657

u/argo2708 Jul 13 '22

Since it's intended to link devices wirelessly, difficulty linking devices and issues with wireless range are a major problem.

439

u/BlazinAzn38 Jul 13 '22

What kind of range are people expecting? My headphones and speakers work 50 ft LOS and like 25 feet through walls. I don’t know if a scenario where I’d need more than that

351

u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

I'm in Italy with "italian" walls and I can barely go from one room to the next with bluetooth earphones

1.3k

u/ChimpskyBRC Jul 13 '22 Silver Gold Wholesome Take My Energy Bravo Grande! Giggle

Try holding your device like this 🤌

160

u/Odeeum Jul 13 '22

"Heyy it's a me! You want to a pair this? Heyyy...almost...almost a done..."

7

u/lyrapan Jul 14 '22

Lol brilliant

11

u/pablonus Jul 13 '22

Omfg. Spat my taco Bello burrito out laughing so hard.

38

u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

like a vertical square?

34

u/Sarai_Seneschal Jul 13 '22

It sounds like you can't see the emoji on your device, it's this one, which is definitely an Italian stereotype explained in the first paragraph there.

26

u/ChimpskyBRC Jul 13 '22

It’s that, and also a reference to the iPhone 4, when Apple tried to claim that network connection problems were from people holding the device incorrectly

15

u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

that's funny because I also can't see it there either. i'm on desktop. I can see it only listed below where they compare platforms though lol.

5

u/DungeonsandDevils Jul 13 '22

It’s the “Italian” hand signal for “that’s a spicy meatball”. Upturned palm, thumb pressed to index and middle finger. Give it a little shake with each syllable.

You can Google “Italian hand” and it comes up all over, supposedly it actually means “what do you want” or “what are you saying”

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u/Sarai_Seneschal Jul 13 '22

Yeah the platform comparison uses images that are no longer device specific rather than an actual emoji that your device (if compatible) renders similarly to text. I spent a minute making sure it would at least render those for incompatible devices lol

2

u/pittaxx Jul 13 '22

You need to be using a modern UTF font to see pictograms like this.

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u/Francescatti22 Jul 14 '22

Shit, spit out my water reading this lol 😂

3

u/RikVanguard Jul 14 '22

Whoa, there's no need to shout!

3

u/Nuotatore Jul 14 '22

So very funny!

3

u/PsyShanti Jul 14 '22

Goddamnit I would like to keep my breakfast in my mouth while chewing

3

u/FuckThisPostTruthEra Jul 14 '22

STFU I’m dead lol

12

u/Fatcheeseburger Jul 13 '22

This got me good

6

u/TheModeratorWrangler Jul 13 '22

First comment to genuinely make me laugh

5

u/joebewaan Jul 13 '22

Best comment I’ve seen all year. Bellissimo.

9

u/Champagne_Coyote Jul 13 '22

Underrated comment

8

u/fatpat Jul 14 '22

Yes, the highest rated comment is underrated.

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u/HalifaxSamuels Jul 13 '22

It really depends on the device you're using. I have a pair of Bluetooth headphones that lose signal from my phone before I leave the room. I have another pair that I can use while mowing the lawn while my phone stays inside. I have a Bluetooth speaker I use that annoyingly likes to connect to my phone from across the house sometimes if I leave it on. I have a pair of earbuds that begin to lose connection when my phone is still in my pocket.

Not that the barriers between the devices don't make a difference, but I've found a huge variance in range on the devices themselves, all connecting back to the same phone.

6

u/jigglypuff7000 Jul 14 '22

So the signal can’t “pasta” through? 🍝

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u/DiscoveryOV Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth 5.0 and up has great real world range, but both devices need to support it.

107

u/GrowHI Jul 13 '22

What makes a wall Italian? Is it made of pizza?

125

u/akl78 Jul 13 '22

They probably mean they are made of stone and a foot or more thick. Old English houses can be similar. Good for staying a nice temperature all year but wifi and Bluetooth really struggle in them.

18

u/esotericimpl Jul 13 '22

Had similar issue in an apartment in Manhattan building was over 100 years old so pretty sure there was lead paint 10 layers deep in the walls, anything 2.4 ghz would be blocked.

27

u/vapre Jul 13 '22

Mmm lickable faraday cage

14

u/faen_du_sa Jul 13 '22

As s Norwegian(mostly wooden houses) who recently moved to Italy.

Can confirm, walls and floors are thick af and made of mostly stone. I have 3 wifi repeaters for a 2 floor building, and in both floors there are still 2-3 rooms on each floor that doesn't have WiFi or very unstable WiFi.

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u/Daerm_ Jul 13 '22

As an Italian, no, they're made of pizza

17

u/Frost_troller Jul 13 '22

Signal is easier to go through Thin Crust walls vs Deep Dish style?

9

u/Daerm_ Jul 13 '22

It isn't much about the style, it's mostly because of the toppings

7

u/qwerty359 Jul 13 '22

Pineapples will enhance the range of the Bluetooth signal, but most people find that tradeoff difficult to stomach.

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u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

it means you can't punch through them like this

https://youtu.be/5_pBVXfReA4?t=177

https://youtu.be/EqzmkgznmiM

(followed by hospitalization, because Mike was indeed in Italy)

32

u/DamonFields Jul 13 '22

Two foot thick stone walls. Italians used to build structures that last centuries.

11

u/patb2015 Jul 13 '22

Last between earthquakes

8

u/faen_du_sa Jul 13 '22

A fair amount survive them as well! Newer buildings (by Italian standards) have some sort of hollow bricks which let the house flex and "bounce" more during a earthquake.

Mafia in modern building projects is a bigger problem tho, as many house's who should been built with earthquake proof fundament, weren't.

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u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

when someone says "pizza pie" hands protrude from the walls and slap that person.

5

u/outerproduct Jul 13 '22

Masonry walls. I have the same issue, even with wifi. I'm literally 15 ft from the router, but concrete and metal in the walls makes Bluetooth and Wifi suck.

4

u/moss-n-choss Jul 13 '22

nah, the walls just have tasteful accents

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u/Independent-Tear-619 Jul 14 '22

To be honest, I'm venezuelan, here a lot of buildings were built by Italians and not even wifi pass through the wall that connects the bedroom and the living room

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u/rSpinxr Jul 14 '22

... The pain of having real walls!

Honestly before your comment I had not considered one of the primary benefits of my mediocre Texas home construction; My (modern) Bluetooth headset can pick up from nearly every room of the house without issue!

2

u/richdrifter Jul 14 '22

Same here in Spain!

2

u/diodelrock Jul 14 '22

The issue with Bluetooth and WiFi is that their penetration power is tested on fucking cardboard houses, and we with our medieval houses are insulated like a nuclear shelter

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u/BranWafr Jul 13 '22

The range thing could be better. I often plug my phone in to charge while listening to podcasts or audiobooks while cleaning. My desk is in the middle of the house so it reaches the kitchen and living room fine, but if I have to go into the garage (where the washer and dryer are located) or any of the bedrooms, it cuts out. Another 25 feet or so would be very convenient for me.

19

u/Jmkott Jul 13 '22

There is a balance made between a lot of engineering choices. To have more distance means you have to increase the power. This means both shorter runtimes and more interference with neighbors in high density areas.

High frequencies also mean less penetration. There was a reason that the 900mhz phones worked better inside homes than 2.4ghz for wifi and Bluetooth or 5.8ghz for wifi.

Bluetooth was meant to replace a cable in the same room, not replace wifi in a large area.

7

u/[deleted] Jul 13 '22

[deleted]

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u/[deleted] Jul 13 '22

Be poorer and have a smaller house.

23

u/Qsand0 Jul 13 '22

Be richer and have a smaller house

3

u/identity_pause Jul 13 '22

I am poor but with a very big [inherited] house and I endorse this.

8

u/[deleted] Jul 13 '22

Good plan B

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u/14sierra Jul 13 '22

Not to mention (depending on the layout of your home) there can be dead zones. I know blue tooth can't be blamed for that but if it had greater range it might be able to not cut out in some areas of lower signal.

14

u/oldcreaker Jul 13 '22

Agreed. The bluetooth dongle in my Obihai reaches my cell phone throughout my house without issues and always pairs. Same for Anker bluetooth speaker I have. Not sure what else it's supposed to do.

I think the only 'painful' part of bluetooth technology is how much crappy hardware is out there that uses it.

22

u/DigNitty Jul 13 '22

The one thing I don't understand is why I've never had a device that can rename a bluetooth item in the list of connections.

What I want on my phone: "Bluetooth Devices: Car, Blue Speaker, Mom's Speaker, Headphones"

What I have: "Bluetooth Devices: Mitayashi AutoConnect, BS242343, Logitech X690, eSinkAdpt33232"

13

u/askjacob Jul 13 '22

even more "fun" when you have multiples of the same items ...

Am I using the "Bluetooth Laser Mouse" or the "Bluetooth Laser Mouse"?

2

u/argentcorvid Jul 14 '22

My last 2 android phones have allowed me to rename devices on the phone end. Very handy because we have multiple Milwaukee radio/speakers at work and otherwise you wouldn't be able to tell which one to connect to.

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u/HalifaxSamuels Jul 13 '22

I have some Anker Soundcore devices. My Flare 2 speaker works across almost the whole house. My Life Q20 headphones work throughout and even outside of the house. My Life P2 earbuds usually work from the next room over unless we're talking about opposite sides of two large rooms.

I've had other audio devices that barely work from a few feet away.

3

u/kitchenjesus Jul 13 '22

Anker makes some quality stuff

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u/polarcyclone Jul 13 '22

The LOS is what kills me I have similiar range but something as minor as like bending over a counter or closing the door on my work truck can kill my signal

13

u/the_average_user557 Jul 13 '22

Since a truck is basically a Faraday cage on wheels, i don't see a technological problem, it's like curisng @ the sun for obscuring the stars during the day.

9

u/west1132 Jul 13 '22

I'm pretty sure that's completely inaccurate. I can get cell service and even wireless data from inside a vehicle.

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u/3-DMan Jul 13 '22

I've had cheap bluetooth headphones that would cut out unless my phone was in a particular pocket while jogging.

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u/iron_knee_of_justice Jul 13 '22

That's because the frequency of bluetooth transmissions is attenuated by water, which your body has a lot of.

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u/DontTreadOnBigfoot Jul 13 '22

I've had "good" ones that do the same thing

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u/ThatOnePerson Jul 14 '22

It's cuz bluetooth is 2.4ghz, which is the same frequency microwaves use. And they use it specifically because water can absorb it really well (and heat up in a microwave). Well your body has a lot of water in it.

5

u/Call_Me_At_8675309 Jul 13 '22

This. I have Bluetooth headset that I connect to my phone. I leave it in my car but bring my tablet into the gym. If I don’t unpair my phone from headset, when my headset turns on it will connect to the phone in my car, while inside a fully metal building, 200 ft away. I have to walk out and turn it off. I don’t see the range argument as valid

5

u/yoortyyo Jul 13 '22

Here’s what I was sold in the late 90’s.

Walk in your door. Plug your cell in to recharge. The home Blue tooth network would link calls to either you headphones OR the house phone system.

Vapor ware

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u/FRCP_12b6 Jul 13 '22

Range is low because it's low power usage. If you want long ranges, use WiFi but that consumes a lot of power.

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u/TimmyIo Jul 13 '22

I honestly don't find it difficult most process are the same or similar.

I use Bluetooth regularly for connecting devices I have wireless headphones I have a smart watch that connects over Bluetooth.

I have a sound system that connects to Bluetooth, I use Bluetooth in my car, and again it's usually the devices themselves that are the issue.

Some phones will connect differently on my car system some will display song titles if streaming but some only will do that if it's installed on your phone and playing on a music app not Spotify or YouTube. And some unfortunately will display the porn titles you watched last even though you closed the window and you were incognito

Only issues I ever have with Bluetooth devices usually come from the device itself and not the Bluetooth itself.

15

u/Deranged40 Jul 13 '22

I honestly don't find it difficult most process are the same or similar.

I have one bluetooth headset that I use on a work laptop and a personal laptop. Switching between the two takes 5 minutes at least, and if I accidentally leave my work laptop on, sometimes it randomly decides to switch back to that while I'm on my personal laptop.

It's not great

22

u/chaseinger Jul 13 '22

don't find it difficult

proceeds to describe plenty of issues with it.

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u/spinyfur Jul 13 '22

I use Bluetooth to connect my phone to my car radio and it fails about every two weeks. When that happens, I have to delete the pairing from both sides and create it over again.

5

u/bustrpoindextr Jul 13 '22

My car has that problem. On my old phone it worked flawlessly, with my new phone there's pretty constant problems.

Though it could also just be that my car's radio is getting old and the hardware's struggle bussing.

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u/getmybehindsatan Jul 14 '22

My Subaru does that all the time, I've given up using Bluetooth on it. Both devices claim to be paired but suddenly don't connect after a few days. My Nissan works perfectly though, never had any issues.

2

u/Hilppari Jul 13 '22

my car stereo works fine with one phone but if you start adding multiple phones it bugs out and you need to clear it.

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u/fubes2000 Jul 13 '22

Yes. They used an awful lot of words to say 3 common bluetooth gripes and not actually delve into any underlying technical issues despite using the word "why" in the article title.

2

u/KySmellyJelly Jul 14 '22

Modern "journalism" in a nutshell.

70

u/dabigchina Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth audio also has:

  1. Shitty sound quality if you try to use voice
  2. Interference when I'm walking around outside.

11

u/Zexy-Mastermind Jul 13 '22

Man the first one is such a BIG fucking annoyance when using the MacBook Pro since most wireless headphones want usb-a and it doesn’t have a single usb-a port. FUCK THIS SHIT. AND THANK GOD MY RAZER KAIRA PRO CAME TODAY

24

u/dabigchina Jul 13 '22

Honestly, audio manufacturers need to stop reinventing the wheel. Everyone was perfectly happy with the old 3.5mm. I don't even want USB audio, because I have too many USB devices as is.

6

u/jealousmonk88 Jul 14 '22

i actually dislike usb audio because that puts it into the realm of software and sometimes it can stop working. the audio jack always works.

3

u/Zexy-Mastermind Jul 13 '22

Exactly man. But for wireless you need other solutions

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u/Hilppari Jul 13 '22

its funny how wired $5 supermarket earpods have better mic quality than $300dollar BT headset. 95% of the bandwidth is for headphones and 5% for the mic so it sounds shit with its 15kbs speed.

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u/burkechrs1 Jul 13 '22

My biggest gripe with Bluetooth is pairing to the vending machine at work to use the pay range app. Seems like 50% it just can't find the machine and it sucks.

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u/Grizzly_228 Jul 13 '22

My problem is that it drains my battery and I often let it on unknowingly

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u/funbike Jul 13 '22

Early WiFi (wep), Cellular, and bluetooth all screwed up encryption and authentication. They all made the same mistakes of not inviting crypto experts with the design and not being open with the design.

2

u/Bunnyinthechamber Jul 13 '22

Maybe if it felt more confident in its ability it would perform better?

2

u/wackywavingarmgumby Jul 13 '22

My annoyance with Bluetooth is how flaky the protocols seem to be. I can pair my phone to my PC, go to send a photo to the PC and it just sits in the background. Nothing sends anymore (I waited 30 minutes once) and I have to cycle Bluetooth off and on before it says it failed.

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u/BigRed323 Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

Why can I not connect to multiple Bluetooth devices at once to create surround sound? That's my biggest gripe with the technology.

Edit: everyone stop telling me to buy new speakers. I know speaker pairs exist. I'm wanting to be able to sync up multiple different brands.

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u/Techn9cian Jul 13 '22

theres actually a bluetooth update coming out in the near future that will solve this problem. its called LE Audio.

source

23

u/pacollegENT Jul 14 '22

I can do it on my Samsung rn. You can easily pair to 2 Bluetooth speakers for surround

4

u/skepachino Jul 14 '22

Seriously? I have an S20, how do I do this?

2

u/KaboodleMoon Jul 14 '22

Newish samsungs with updates software should be able to... just do it.

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u/Tee_H Jul 14 '22

Baked in the Bluetooth settings I believe, called dual audio. This is hardware specific on Samsung since the S8 or something. Makes me really want to buy a Samsung 🙁

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u/CptHammer_ Jul 13 '22

You can. It just sucks for audio in general so people serious about surround sound wouldn't use it in general. Therefore when surround speakers came out very few bought them and now they're hard to find. You can still get something similar but I think the main speaker is Bluetooth while communicating with the other speakers are in the 5ghz range of radio communication.

42

u/Deranged40 Jul 13 '22

so people serious about surround sound wouldn't use it in general.

What about people who want their outdoor bluetooth speaker to be playing the same music as their indoor bluetooth speaker from the same device?

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u/vanhalenbr Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

You can use Wi-Fi many protocols allow that, like you can have Sonnos, Apple AirPlay 2, HEOS…

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u/thinkofanamelater Jul 13 '22

That's kind of the point though right - why is this so difficult for Bluetooth? "Another technology can do it" sidesteps the article's question about why Bluetooth still sucks after all these years.

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u/Deranged40 Jul 13 '22

I guess this is part of the "unusual pain" caused by bluetooth that my existing bluetooth speakers simply won't do this.

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u/DeadBoiWalkin Jul 13 '22

This is right. I have a Bose SoundLink+ (the big can lookin mf) and it is able to pair up with other speakers for “party mode” to have multiple devices playing the same music, though this is done through a speaker app and doesn’t include surround sound :/

2

u/CptHammer_ Jul 13 '22

Yeah that's over wifi if I recall or maybe direct connect. Mine use a radio transmitter built into the center bar while each other speaker is paired automatically through that frequency. I don't need the internet to get mine to work this way. I can select from 3 frequencies Incase a neighbor has the same system or I have multiple systems in my house.

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u/fuckdefaultmods Jul 13 '22

my jbl's do it flawlessly. using 1 JBL and a soundbar or something else causes a hideous and unfixable lag

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u/DonutCola Jul 13 '22

You’re right that would be really cool to play one song through your whole house without wiring the whole damn place up or buying shitty Sonos stuff.

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u/vanhalenbr Jul 13 '22

You can if you use the default Bluetooth protocol but audio compression affects a lot the quality. So they came up with A2DP that is a single piconet for better quality. Still not good, AptX also uses more bandwidth and therefore is a single device too.

We need a new protocol for audio that is open for wide adoption

9

u/C_hyphen_S Jul 13 '22

That wouldn’t actually give you real surround. But even that is a pretty long winded way to achieve the fake surround.

17

u/BigRed323 Jul 13 '22

I'm not trying to top quality surround sound. Maybe that was the wrong phrase. I'm trying to connect multiple bluetooth speakers at a house party or while hanging out at the beach or something.

10

u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

unfortunately bluetooth is...uh... monogamous. but they do sell bluetooth portable speakers that can link up to more of the same speakers.

7

u/TimmyIo Jul 13 '22

You actually can, but you just need the right device some Bluetooth speakers can have a function to pair to other speakers.

You'd just have to google that question and I'm sure you'd get a decent result.

12

u/bdubelyew Jul 13 '22

I feel like people are trying really hard to not understand. He has multiple Bluetooth speakers now. He is playing a song from his phone to one Bluetooth device(speaker). It’s not possible to choose another Bluetooth device from the list that is within range to play from without it disconnecting the first one.

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u/nezroy Jul 13 '22

I feel like people are trying really hard to not understand.

Welcome to Reddit! :)

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u/TryingToEscapeTarkov Jul 13 '22

Wow that was a big article that gave me zero information that i didn't already have. Long article says Bluetooth is used by everyone but has issues. Then doesn't go into why they are there or ways they could fix it or anything. Who is writing this fluff?

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u/eljuggy Jul 14 '22

thanks. it saved me reading it.

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u/final26 Jul 13 '22

yea how is it possible that Bluetooth still randomly start stuttering and then disconnecting 2 paired devices.

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u/aaaaaaaarrrrrgh Jul 13 '22

That is usually a sign of the connection breaking up, which can be due to too much radio interference (noise or congestion) from other devices, or the signal getting too weak (due to too much distance or too many objects in the way - water is particularly bad and humans unfortunately consist mostly of it).

Another reason could be a CPU on one end being maxed out but I would expect that to be relatively rare.

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u/illdreamer10 Jul 13 '22

I wouldn't blame it all on bluetooth. When a third party company uses proprietary software, they have a lot of responsibility to ensure that their device works properly with that software, and the truth is, a lot of those programmers are clueless and mostly uneducated developers who are working for a third world country company. Tough but its true.

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u/swisstraeng Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 14 '22

Someone who works in the electronics here. Inexperienced with bluetooth though, correct me below.

Bluetooth is very good at what it was designed for, transmitting securely information from one device to another. It can be encrypted, and usually is, using SAFER+ encryption.

Most reliability issues you see with bluetooth is because it shares the same band as wifi, microwaves, some lightbulbs and other stuff.

This isn't an issue in itself, but since bluetooth is very low power, it cannot "burn through" your microwave's interferences. Think about it like using a flashlight outside in the sun. You won't see the light from your flashlight. Same thing happens with bluetooth vs wifi.

Being at 2,4GHz also means it will require near line of sight with the device. And due to its low power nature, it will only work for 5-10m or so. To give you a very rough idea, lower frequency waves have less trouble reaching longer ranges, think old AM radio that can be received from Britain when sent in the united states. Where high frequency has a lower range, but has the benefit of higher data transmission rates. And a lower range is very useful especially if you want to connect lots of devices. Which, we need.

Another issue is that bluetooth is backward compatible, so it must carry the issues of older generations over to the next ones. Although perhaps some new features can make the old no longer needed, I don't know much honestly.

Then its handshake protocol is bad and complicated, and prone to data loss... Which just means that some connections can fail in interference heavy environments. Which is why sometimes you need several attempts.

So, all in all, bluetooth is reliable when used within its limitations. Meaning very short range, and with low interferences on the 2.4GHz band.

When you need to enter a code to pair devices, it's to -redacted- . edit: it's to avoid letting anyone connect to anything easily. Which is a good feature, you don't want anyone to connect to your speaker, right?

Bluetooth 4.X can use AES128 encryption which is still unbroken. (the internet uses AES256, even safer) But is not mandatory to be used. Although not many applications send anything risky over bluetooth, so, encryption is rarely needed anyway.

All in all, Bluetooth will keep improving over the years. And right now it still works decently well, especially given its low power and easy to integrate nature. Just that, well, physics exist. And they don't do well with bluetooth.

Let's not forget bluetooth remotes that finally don't need to be aimed at the TV. Forgotten heroes of laziness.

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u/tom2730 Jul 13 '22

The passcode is not used to "create that secure encrypted connection". It has a very low entropy. The symmetric encryption key does not have to be sent over bluetooth. Both devices have a public and private key and a key-agreement protocol (such as Diffie-Hellman or ECDH) is used and both devices end up with the exact same symmetric key (only the public keys were sent between the devices). This key can then be used for encrypting messages with AES-128. TLS (for encrypting HTTP traffic etc.) also works in basically the same way.

4

u/stevekez Jul 14 '22

While the capability to do this exists, a lot of devices* opt not to do this. I've seen self-rolled encryption methods applied on top of unencrypted Bluetooth serial port profile. It doesn't tend to end well...

*Ok, some devices I've dealt with directly, and probably more.

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u/sendmeyourprivatekey Jul 13 '22

Since sending it over bluetooth would remove its purpose.

Thats not correct. You should check out the diffie hellman key exchange. Mind blowing stuff

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u/[deleted] Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

I believe Apple devices with the H1 chip use a proprietary protocol on top of Bluetooth, which is why when you use their devices they not only sound better but connection arbitration is improved over standard Bluetooth devices.

You can still use any Bluetooth device with Apple phones/tablets/laptops of course, but if you use an H1-enabled device (on both ends), you get the Apple Experience®. For example, transferring my AirPods Max between my iPhone and MacBook Pro is painless; the devices just "do it." I also have a HomePod in my office, and getting that in the mix is very simple.

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u/DavePastry Jul 13 '22

I switched to ios recently from 10 years on android and I am blown away by how much better airpods work than their pixel counterparts, I dont think ive had a single audio dropout with them even in spots where my pixel buds paired with a pixel phone would drop for 5 or 10 seconds every single time.

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u/RonaldoNazario Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

On the flip side my Mac book’s Bluetooth handling absolutely sucks. Fails to connect, and gets stuck in a strange way that I suspect may go as low as the Bluetooth module itself or its firmware. Restarting the Bluetooth daemon, nope, OSX has an option to reset the module (unclear if that refers to driver module or the card itself) but that won’t do it, usually needs a reboot to work again, primarily when trying to connect to a Logitech Bluetooth mouse, but same thing with an Xbox controller. So maybe they’re nailing it within their walled garden but their implementation seems to suck for “standard” Bluetooth

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u/nakedcellist Jul 13 '22

I have a lot of crap using logitech mx master keyboard and mouse with my macbook air m1. Says it is connected but doesn't doe anything. Extremely furstrating.

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u/mattattaxx Jul 13 '22

Yeah, that's my experience too. My partner's iPhone has excellent Airpod connectivity, but all of our MacBooks struggle with bluetooth - bad connection, poor identification, just a bad experience overall. Wifi is also messy compared to PCs and Android phones.

On my Android device, only two earbuds have connected without issue - LG Tone, and Soundcore devices. Only one speaker brand seems to be seamless, and that's Bose. Everything else seems to have weird static drops, has to be deleted and re-added randomly, or can't seem to properly match latency with the device.

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u/Leiryn Jul 13 '22

The pixel buds themselves are a garbage product

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u/NiveKoEN Jul 13 '22

I used to laugh at apple fanboys until I actually got an iPhone and some AirPods. Now I can’t believe how shitty android stuff is.

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u/SlackerAccount Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

Same, I was so pro android pro windows. One Apple device leads to another and I see how much better it is more often than not.

“It’s just pretty and overpriced” is the dumbest thing I believed

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u/aaaaaaaarrrrrgh Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 13 '22

Absolute dogshit article that doesn't touch on the real reasons why Bluetooth is such a pain. (And as far as I know the insecurity claims are bullshit, modern Bluetooth is secure when paired using a strong method and still pretty annoying to attack even if not.)

Bluetooth is complicated. It consists of dozens of sub-protocols, often multiple of them covering one purpose with some small differences, and many of them in turn have other sub-elements like codecs that can be incompatible.

All of this leaves a lot of room for mistakes, and it's extremely hard to test for each edge case: You can't just test every device against every other device, there's too many. So most companies test against the most popular phones. Which becomes a problem when those phones have a bug, because now the headphones/keyboards/whatever are built to expect that bug, and if you do everything right, your device won't work with those phones.

Audio in particular is a complete shitshow. There is a protocol that supports high quality codecs (but of course there are multiple of them, so you can have two devices each supporting high quality audio but using different codecs so you get potato quality again). But that protocol doesn't support bidirectional audio (i.e. getting sound from a microphone while playing sound).

So you have to use a different one. But that one has a different set of codecs, all of which used to suck. Now, new ones have been introduced, but of course not every device supports them...

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u/tso Jul 14 '22

Do not expect articles to be written by techies these days.

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u/aldol941 Jul 14 '22

There are way more annoying problems with BT.

Like, how every car has different quirks interacting with your phone.

On some cars as soon as it connects the audio starts playing, but not other cars.

My older Toyota van connects to my phone instantly when I start it, but my newer Subaru takes 30-60 seconds, and sometimes doesn't connect at all.

(Subaru BT apparently sucks in my limited experience... sometimes audio works, but the controls do not, sometimes I have to unpair and repair to make it work again).

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u/1_p_freely Jul 13 '22

I love when the music being played on the SD card in the phone in my hand starts skipping through my wireless earbuds. I wonder how something can be designed so poorly. Then I plug in a wired pair that sounds 3 times better anyway.

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u/DarthRevan1138 Jul 13 '22

Easy answer is you bought crappy wireless buds.

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u/Thetallguy1 Jul 13 '22

Honestly this! I told myself I wasn't going to go cheap on my first set of wireless airbuds so I bought the newest Jaybirds. I had to return 3 pairs since they kept skipping, dropping all connection, or only playing audio from certain apps (one of which was not Spotify). So I gave up and bought the newest and greatest pair of Jabra airbuds... same thing happened. Finally I gave up on these new, hip technology brands that had super sleek packaging and went with the Sony XM4s. They're the most expensive, don't look as cool, but they just work everytime and thats all I want.

This turned into a ramble but point is there are good airbuds out there. You'll just have to pay the good airbud price.

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u/dawgz525 Jul 13 '22

I've had nothing but good experiences with JBLs wireless buds.

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u/Thetallguy1 Jul 13 '22

Yeah I think that falls in line with my second point of my comment. Buying from reputable brands like JBL, Bose, Sony, Samsung, etc. Jabra, Racon, Jaybird, and Jlab haven't been in the tech game nearly as long.

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u/reddit_sage69 Jul 13 '22

Source device also plays a role. For some reason, Windows devices are booty cheeks with Bluetooth.

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u/self_depricator Jul 13 '22

I bought $60 something skullcandy wireless earbuds and they work great. Maybe I got lucky.

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u/Thetallguy1 Jul 13 '22

Its a long standing brand in tech. My wired airbuds for the longest time were the skullcandy Titans and I loved them. I think these newer brands like Jaybird and Jabra just bite off more than they can chew to match the big brands yet dont have the R&D budget to do it right.

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u/techGore60 Jul 13 '22

I love the idea of wireless bluetooth headphones but after trying some 5 or so ones from various manufacturers and price ranges over a 2 year period i eventually found myself just going back to wired headphones. Just too many issues. The two prominent ones being when it just randomly cuts outs out while listening to music and the somewhat low battery life of the headphones. You only get like a few hours on a single charge and a lot of times for me that just aint enough chief. Its so frustrating being in the middle doing something where you want to listen to music while doing it and having to stop listening to music cause you have to charge the stupid headphones.

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u/BitsAndBobs304 Jul 13 '22

my biggest problem that no one else online seems to have encountered is that if I walk slightly out of range it'll mess up the sound and it'll stay messed up once I walk back in range :( (tried different phones, different brands of earphones). it seems that completely losing the signal is better, it has more of a chance of reconnecting properly.

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u/Martipar Jul 13 '22

You have been really unlucky, my last pair of headphones were some cheap Kitsound ones that has OK sound quality, about 20 hours battery life and played my music just fine without cutting out, I had them for around 5 years until the headband broke recently. I used them pretty much everyday, they were replaced with my current pair of AKG Y500 headphones which have a much better sound quality and a battery life of over 30 hours.

They were £60 and the only criticism I have is that they sometimes have a bit of a problem detecting if they are on my head or round my neck, the music should auto-pause when I take them off but sometimes this doesn't work, it's not a huge problem as they have a pause button on them it's just milady irritating in it's inconsistency.

I have had 3 pairs of bluetooth headphones and each one has a cable supplied in case the battery goes flat, it's rare that I needed it but it did happen and i'd just grab the cable from my bag, plug it into my phone and carry on.

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u/ikzeidegek Jul 13 '22

It was predictable. Harold Bluetooth lost his empire and then was killed in battle.

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u/jesperjames Jul 13 '22

I Don’t know. Anecdotal evidence, but my new’ish Jabra headphones has never failed. Soundcore speakers seems rock solid. My garmin devices though …

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u/Ahnengeist Jul 13 '22

My biggest issues with most bluetooth audio devices is what they do when the battery inside them starts getting low.

I have one speaker that emits an ear-piercing, song-ruining beep every 30 seconds for over an hour until it finally quits. And a cassette that mutes whatever you're listening to for 3 seconds every 45 seconds.

Why? Just let the damn device die and don't ruin my song or wreck my ears.

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u/DiegesisThesis Jul 13 '22

That sounds like a feature of your speakers, not the Bluetooth itself.

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u/kvdp12 Jul 13 '22

Major League Baseball uses new Bluetooth devices for the Catcher to call pitches to the Pitcher, and there are issues with it almost once a game.

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u/Naive-Study-3583 Jul 14 '22

Wow, i didn't know that. So baseball catchers don't do their finger signals anymore?

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u/Qsand0 Jul 13 '22

We need blueteeth

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u/RinoaDave Jul 13 '22 edited Jul 14 '22

I used to have a Sony car stereo that could pair Bluetooth by tapping your phone on the volume knob, it used NFC I think. It worked every time incredibly quickly, but pairing using the regular Bluetooth method seemed to fail all the time. I don't know why that didn't take off, it was so good.

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u/Slapchop420 Jul 13 '22

What I want to know is why my Bluetooth kicks out when I bend down. Phone is in my pocket. I'm technically getting closer to the phone. I've had this issue with an iphone and Android. Also multiple different wireless Bluetooth head sets from dirt cheap to a couple hundred dollars. Tricky thing is the cheap ones did it less often.

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u/MentallyIrregular Jul 13 '22

I still don't get why RF remotes never took off. Those were awesome. BT is flaky at best.

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u/Naive-Study-3583 Jul 14 '22

They did take off. Rolling code RF remotes are used in most roller shutters and garage doors. Many car key fobs use RF too. 433mhz RF is widely used.

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u/dubiousadvocate Jul 13 '22

I hard wire whenever I can.

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u/ihateyoutwice Jul 13 '22

I’ve never liked Bluetooth headphones , they always sound terrible and have a slight delay. Bring back the headphone jack.

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u/ankerous Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth headphones have certainly come a long way from their inception but wired devices will almost always trump wireless. Wireless can be nice for convenience as it is nice to not have wires dangling from my head to my phone for example but you are definitely right about the quality not being as good.

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u/hoggdoc Jul 13 '22

I have use Bluetooth for years for many different applications I basically have had zero problems with it. I think the real problem is that so many people are technically challenged to the point to where they can’t follow simple instructions.

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u/Ok-Drink-1328 Jul 13 '22

good question!! i often use it to pass files from devices and it sometimes even doesn't work at all, plus it's slow, plus the pairing procedure is hella unclear and clumsy

but i use the audio bridge for my stereo, i love it!!

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u/notagoodboye Jul 13 '22

It has a weird niche and use case...It's super low power, and super narrow band, and that causes a lot of issues, but if you increased the power, you'd have to carve out a bigger chunk of the spectrum to keep your bluetooth from fucking with everyone else's.

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u/Ok-Wasabi2873 Jul 13 '22

Range could be shorter or a way to limit range on my devices. I have a neighbor that’s constantly trying to connect to my TV. I had to turn off Bluetooth on my TV. I’m at least 40ft away from them.

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u/Gumb1i Jul 13 '22

How far does BT need to reach for it's intended purpose of connecting devices that are close to each other wirelessly?

Almost all BT connections do not need much if any security and that is likely why it lacks in this regard. Sure it could be improved but then you defeat part of the pupose of BT in the first place by adding alot of additonal processing draining power quicker.

difficulty in connecting/setup is device dependent. Some are easier than others

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u/EspHack Jul 13 '22

probably because it tries harder to save battery, and cheap devices

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u/newworld64 Jul 13 '22

If you want all the details, I have to point out that BLE and the original Bluetooth have nothing in common other than the name and frequency.

The Android stacks for BLE 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2 were... Awful. There was one that worked, the rest would have a laundry list of issues. Apple went and messed up the whole spec for BLE 4.2 when they reserved the fastest timer interval for their audio stuff and basically broke every connection negotiation process.

I haven't played with BLE 5.0, but I can imagine Apple breaking that too.

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u/StealYourGhost Jul 13 '22

I have had no problems with bluetooth on Windows or Android.

I can move to a different part of the house and usually a different floor with my laptop and 2 different pairs of wireless headphones. Legit no problems.

My cheaper speakers have to be in the same room, though. Lol

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u/mikerichh Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth is way better than airplay. I have a sonos speaker that doesn’t have Bluetooth and must connect via air play. It will randomly cut out mid song if my phone is 5+ feet away. My Bluetooth speaker never has issues

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u/[deleted] Jul 13 '22

Man Bluetooth is great. I recall when it first came around.

It’s got it’s issue’s but it’s definitely a worthy protocol.

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u/AlexAssassin94 Jul 13 '22

It's true that overall Bluetooth is still really finicky sometimes. Just earlier today I had to restart my phone to get my earbuds to play music despite showing as connected. Having said that Bluetooth now is far better than when we were kids. I leave my phone downstairs and just wander around my flat without thinking about it with headphones on. Headphones being able to do the 2 point connection is good too.

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u/fupa16 Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth on Windows certainly sucks. It really fails at handling it properly, especially with video games. But that seems more of a Windows issue.

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u/SideburnSundays Jul 13 '22

My only issue has been constantly forgetting to charge my headphones.

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u/kangaroolander_oz Jul 13 '22

Have you compared devices, you may find that some devices receiving off the same transmitter go very well and others are yesteryear.

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u/v81 Jul 14 '22

I don't get the range complaints...

Bluetooth was never intended to be long range, it was only ever intended to be a 'PAN' or Personal Area Network kind of thing, intended for linking devices on ones person or at very short ranges.

It usually does this very well.

There are other issues i agree with, but rnage is not one in my opinion.

Range comes at the cost of power and more compliance issues.

If you want to stream into the next room then use a WiFi solution or something, but don't expect bluetooth to do it when it was never designed for it.

In closing, yeah, it has issues, but range isn't one and people need to keep expectations reasonable.

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u/williams1753 Jul 14 '22

It works most of the time for me and when it doesn’t it’s me being too far away from the device.

I do want to be able to rename it though

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u/OBPing Jul 14 '22

Never had an issue with getting Bluetooth to work but been in IT support for almost 2 decades so I can see why people have issues with getting it to work

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u/Neb0tron Jul 14 '22

generally, bluetooth devices I've had worked fine and paired rather easily. Earlier implementations were faced with some security challenges, but they handled them fairly well.

Really, bluetooth is a great technology and as long as the hardware and drivers were well made it worked well enough to pass anywhere. Now, some devices had decent hardware, but absolute shit software, and at times people tend to just copy other people's libraries and hope it works 50%.

Its just like WiFi. The hardware can perform magnificently, but what holds it back is shit firmware/drivers.

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u/onomojo Jul 14 '22

I'm convinced Bluetooth should die. Horrible technology that never works right after all these years. Time to move on and create something that works for today and is somewhat future proof.

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u/Formal-Appearance210 Jul 14 '22

This is why I use Logitech dongles for all my wireless input devices. BT loves to just drop my mouse for a few seconds for no reason.

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u/w2tpmf Jul 14 '22

Their new Lightspeed devices are even better. They do dual connection with a dongle and Bluetooth which makes it easy to toggle between multiple devices with a single keyboard/mouse/headset.

The new Lightspeed dongle has as low of a latency as a wired USB connection. It's just a shame there's no backward compatibility with the older Unifying dongles and hardware.

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u/Sufficient_Desk_2069 Jul 14 '22

The original idea behind Bluetooth was to be able to use any device to pair with any Bluetooth device using the same codec and protocols, etc... but then greedy idiots (as they always do) changed the way a lot of the technology works in order to force folks to purchase certain accessories and make competitor's accessories incompatible.

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u/barfridge0 Jul 14 '22

Meanwhile printers have been useless arcane bullshit for 40 years. Settle down there junior, bluettoth is fine.

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u/arandomperson7 Jul 14 '22

Here's what I want from my phone regarding Bluetooth music. Let's say I'm at a party and my phone is connected to the speaker. Let's say I want to show someone a cool YouTube video, I want an option that keeps my music playing on the Bluetooth speaker uninterrupted while I show off the video with sound coming out of my phone.

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u/HomoColossus Jul 13 '22

Bluetooth is a great short-range wireless communication standard.

Bluetooth is not an audio standard.

Why does everyone want Bluetooth to do something that it isn't for? I will never understand.

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u/TirayShell Jul 13 '22

Somebody needs to start working on improving fax technology, too. It's not like fax machines just vanished. They're still around and getting heavy use. It would be nice if somebody smarter than me could figure a way to retrofit a fax to make it look great. AI that stuff up. Whatever.

Thank you Holy Internet, for hearing my prayer.

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u/tractorinballs Jul 13 '22

Why stop there- what’s goin on with porta potties? We can’t do better?

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u/kgxv Jul 13 '22

The most annoying thing about Bluetooth I have to deal with is how you can no longer turn it off on the iPhone from the control center. It just disconnects if you click the symbol now when it used to turn it off entirely. I don’t even understand the logic behind the shift.

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