Bluetooth blues: When all your connected devices fail at once
It all started with my Fitbit. The trusty little fitness device would normally pop in around 2pm to let me know I'd hit my 1000 steps for the day.
We'd celebrate together, and I'd get on with life. Then suddenly, for seemingly no reason at all, it stopped. I was still hitting my steps, but there was no mid-afternoon pick-me-up from the device. Perhaps the little guy was dying?
Then last week, for seemingly no reason at all, my Bluetooth mouse went crazy. The smallest nudge would send the cursor flying across the screen. Suddenly it was right-clicking instead of left, left-clicking instead of right.
Next, my in-car GPS, for seemingly no reason at all, stopped avoiding traffic jams. In fact, the evil little device seemed to be driving me head-on into congestion. Were my devices turning against me? Was this how the Age of Man would end?
Not really. After much Googling, and many more hours testing, it seemed there was nothing wrong with any of my gizmos — I just had far too many Bluetooth connections to my phone.
In our wearable, post-headphone-jack world, it seems we're asking too much of our wireless devices.
Bluetooth was never designed to be connected to many things at once.
The latest version of the protocol — 4.2 Low Energy Bluetooth — does a great job remembering the things it has connected to, but doesn't seem to do well at maintaining those connections, or swapping efficiently between them.
And this has become a problem for me of late. According to Wikipedia, my phone should be able to handle up to seven Bluetooth Low Energy connections, but I don't think this takes into account the strength of some of them.
Granted, as a reviewer of technology, I test more devices than your average consumer. But I try to maintain good Bluetooth hygiene, removing an old device when a new one is added. But that sort of management isn't something the average consumer should need to think about. One should not have to decide between syncing the toothbrush or the shaver in the morning.
Even so — when my phone is connected to just a Fitbit, sometimes a car GPS, and AirPods — it takes just one other persistent connection to throw the whole system off kilter.
- Sydney Morning Herald