When the first Bluetooth dongle was demonstrated in the year 2000, everyone was amazed. The year before, the Bluetooth 1.0 standard was introduced, and nobody thought it could get better. But of course it did, with Bluetooth 2.0. And every few years since then, a new standard has come out, leading us to our current position of Bluetooth 5.0, which is extremely cool. But nothing could prepare it from Web Bluetooth, ultimate coolness in Bluetooth (for now).
What Is Web Bluetooth?
Web Bluetooth is a brand-new standard for Bluetooth. It allows websites to use your device to connect to your nearby Bluetooth devices using an API. The functionality is available on Chrome for Mac, Chrome for Android (Marshmallow and up) and Chrome OS. Not many websites, if any, use it yet.
But What About Security?
Obviously, websites can’t just randomly connect to and control your stuff. We aren’t (quite) in the dystopian world visualised in 1984. Sadly, we’re also not in the 2015 of Back to the Future. So no, your home isn’t about to be controlled by Google. Just like any API used in Chrome, you need to give the site permission to use your Bluetooth Devices.
Okay, so this new tech is useless. I’m outta here.
At first glance, this new tech might be useless. But if you think about it, this is actually amazing. Just imagine, if you will, a world in which Netflix connects to your Bluetooth surround sound system whenever you watch a movie on your laptop, then disconnects when you’re done. A world in which WebMD connects to your iPhone’s Health app to grab your health data. A world in which Google Photos automatically grabs photos from your Bluetooth DSLR. Suddenly, Web Bluetooth doesn’t sound so stupid…
Okay, I’m sold. But why isn’t it on Windows? Or iPhone?
I’m glad you noticed. Web Bluetooth isn’t around for Linux, iOS or even Windows. Fortunately, a Windows API is “in the works” as they say, but not quite up to scratch. The Linux version will probably follow. As for iOS, you’re going to need to wait a bit longer. Since Chrome for iOS is forced to use Apple’s WebKit APIs, users will have to wait until Apple incorporates Web Bluetooth into WebKit. My guess would be at the release of iOS 11.3, or earlier if Apple decide on a last-minute incorporation.
Are you excited for Web Bluetooth? Do you have any more ideas as to how it should be used? Please let us know in the comments!