Wi-Fi starts getting chummy with its peers
Sinks teeth into Bluetooth market
The Wi-Fi Alliance has started certifying devices as being compatible with the new Wi-Fi Direct protocol. The protocol allows devices to connect to each other without an access point.
The technically literate might cry that ad-hoc connections have been part of Wi-Fi since its inception, but this is different - although not very different. Using Wi-Fi Direct, users can browse nearby devices and connect to them at the push of a button, automatically encrypt those connections - and even bring other devices into a little group. It's just like Bluetooth, only faster.
But that's not how the Wi-Fi Alliance sees it of course. In the world of the Alliance there is no Bluetooth, and the things that Bluetooth is used for are just impossible without Wi-Fi Direct - as the promotional video demonstrates:
So now we have the first Wi-Fi-Direct-supporting Wi-Fi cards, and a couple of access points (which surely defeats the object, though who are we to say). But it will be a while before Wi-Fi Direct is ready to replace the incumbent Bluetooth.
Bluetooth leaps about the 2.4GHz band like a gnat on speed, while Wi-Fi of all flavours sit on a single channel and interference be damned. Bluetooth also has an extremely comprehensive sniffing protocol by which devices can be filtered by capability or familiarity, something that has been refined over many years. It now even allows devices to create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection, if speed is that important to them. Wi-Fi Direct leaves all that to the software, which risks presenting the user with an inconsistent experience.
But Bluetooth has never really taken off in the USA, partly because in Europe the phone shops demanded that operators gave support for Bluetooth in handsets ('cos the margin on a Bluetooth headset is so attractive). American shops didn't have such sway with the operators and even now Bluetooth isn't widely used.
Wi-Fi is a very respected brand, and that's worth a lot. Taking on Bluetooth directly does risk complicating the experience, and it will be a brave manufacturer who decides to drop Bluetooth support on the basis that Wi-Fi can now do everything. ®
"Bluetooth leaps about the 2.4GHz band like a gnat on speed ..."
Pity the alleged Russian spies didn't use BT, they might be still enjoying the good life if they had.
Maybe this new WiFi standard offers an alternative for like minded 'tourists'. And another excuse for the FBI to demand more money.
For a better WiFi (IMHO):
1. Make the devices talk to each other and work out which channels they use (instead of every single access point in my building using the same channel as my access point. I can't even change it because the AP does not belong to me so I cannot change its settings).
2. Have a standard way of identifying the "owner" / operator of an AP, to be able to talk to them about the AP.
3. Come up with a better encryption model than either no encryption, or encryption that you have to set up manually, and even then you have no encryption from other users. Instead have no encryption to set-up a connection, THEN negotiate and set-up encryption on your connection, and make the encryption different to all the other connections on the AP.
Oh you can go on incresing the "speed" you can get between 2 devices inside an EMC chamber if you want, but until lots of units can play nicely together that won't help the real-world experience.
there'll be wifi headsets? isn't wifi more power consuming than it's azure fanged brethren?