Rumor has it that Apple is getting ready to increase their “AirPlay” reach by including AirPlay over Bluetooth capabilities within their new devices, according to Macotakara and 9to5Mac. Apple apparently showed off a new chip to some of their Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFI) partners at a conference in Shenzen, China. The chip would let Apple mobile devices connect to Bluetooth Smart Ready devices as well as other Apple products like the MacBook Air and Mac minis with decent latency from as far away as 50 feet.
The new piece of silicon will enable future wireless accessories certified for use with the iPod, iPhone or iPad to stream content to and from a host iOS device using Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, in addition to WiFi AirPlay support. AirPlay over Bluetooth mitigates the need to connect to a WiFi network when AirPlaying your music, photos and movies. This feature comes into play when traveling, for example, or using your device in areas with no WiFi connectivity.
The move would be a great one, should this rumor turn out to actually be true (which is up for debate). Connecting your iOS device to a Bluetooth enabled speaker is laborious at best. Pairing devices and all that hoopla isn’t exactly intuitive for most users. AirPlay, on the other hand, is currently quite intuitive. Click the AirPlay button, pick the device you want to stream to and you’re done. Bluetooth isn’t really that simple, is it?
The other major thing this will address is the need for Wi-Fi networks to stream your content. In its current iteration, the Apple TV requires a Wi-Fi network just to stream or mirror my iPad display to the television. With connected devices, and LTE around the corner, there may be less and less emphasis on the need for a personal network at home to connect your devices to the Internet. The Bluetooth AirPlay capabilities would address that moving forward. If you’re close to a device, you should be able to stream to it without having to set up a whole Wi-Fi network, or an Ad-hoc network with your laptop.