According to an e-mail sent by Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell, Bluetooth 5.0 is set to be announced on June 16 at a special media event in London, with double the range and quadruple the speed of Bluetooth 4.2 (via ArsTechnica). The new “Bluetooth 5” wireless standard will also add significantly more capacity to advertising transmissions, by expanding the size of advertising packets.
Current advertising packets are 47 bytes in size, of which 31 are available for data. We don’t know how large Bluetooth 5.0 packets are yet, but expanding the size of advertising packets makes it possible for Bluetooth devices to send each other more detailed information, which could in turn expand the number of things that are possible for wireless beacons or Handoff-like features.
For those who aren’t aware, a Bluetooth advertising packet allows Bluetooth devices to send small snippets of information to other Bluetooth devices even if the two aren’t actually paired or connected to one another. The same technology is used by wireless beacons to transmit information about the location you’re in and by Apple’s AirDrop and Handoff features to let your Macs and iDevices know what your other Macs and iDevices are up to.
It is not yet know whether existing Bluetooth hardware will be compatible with the new spec after a software update, though it seems unlikely.