Bluetooth 3.0: What you need to know. And some stuff you probably don't

Bluetooth 3.0 has been announced, which could see faster data transfer than we've ever seen. We answer all the questions you NEED to know

Bluetooth 3.0+High Speed has been officially confirmed, with faster data transfer on the cards by the end of this year.

What's Bluetooth 3.0?

Why, hello, average consumer. Bluetooth 3.0 is the next generation of the technology that allows you to transfer data wirelessly between two devices, such as sending a photo from one phone to another or using a headset to talk on the phone.

Who says?

The new specification has been announced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

Never heard of 'em.

The Bluetooth SIG is a non-profit organisation that decides on standards and branding, and generally cheerleads for the format.

Give me a B. Give me an L. Give me a U...

Yes, that sort of thing. What's interesting is that Bluetooth 3.0 will use the 802.11 radio protocol, which is the same as used by Wi-Fi.

That is interesting.

All right, don't take the proverbial. What this means for you is that Bluetooth 3.0 will pair the two methods of transferring data, but actual data transfer will take place over Wi-Fi at around 24Mbps. That means file transfer will be much faster than present Bluetooth speeds, and much larger files can be moved. Potentially, that means you could do things such as stream video from a camcorder to an HDTV or zap a batch of photos to a printer.

My phone's died again.

Concentrate, average consumer! Actually, that's relevant, because Bluetooth 3.0 is designed to avoid the battery-draining cost of leaving the current version on all the time. In fact, the 802.11 radio stays off until you actually start transferring data.

Can I have an ice cream?

Not until you finish your nuts. Bluetooth 3.0 will be backwards-compatible, so you'll be able to use new devices with your existing Bluetooth 2.1-toting gear. Chip makers Atheros and Broadcom are already working on 3.0 hardware, and we should see consumer products with Bluetooth 3.0 in around 9 to 12 months. It's also possible that existing devices with 802.11 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 could be upgraded via a firmware update.

I need a wee.