Bluetooth LE Audio standard will give future AirPods longer battery lives


Bluetooth LE Audio borrows Apple’s Audio Sharing feature.
iOS 13 offers Audio Sharing, a feature also coming in Bluetooth LE Audio.
Photo: Apple

Bluetooth LE Audio, a new version of this wireless standard, sets out to increase the battery lives of audio devices like Apple’s AirPods. It will provide high-quality sound even at low data rates, reducing the power requirements of tiny in-ear headphones.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the industry trade group developing this new standard, says that it offers better quality audio even at 50% lower data rates. Devices that use it will therefore need less power.

“Developers will be able to leverage this power savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in cases where current battery life is enough, reduce the form factor by using a smaller battery,” said Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at Fraunhofer IIS.

Bluetooth SIG copying Apple

One of the highlights of iOS 13 is Audio Sharing, which lets two sets of AirPods connect to a single iPhone so they can listen to the same music or podcast.

The Bluetooth SIG liked the idea so much it added it to to the LE Audio standard.

Bluetooth LE Audio aids people with hearing loss

This new Bluetooth standard is the first to specifically address the needs of those with hearing loss. It’s intended to foster the creation of smaller wireless hearing aids with longer battery lives.

“Within a few years most new phones and TVs will be equally accessible to users with hearing loss,” said Stefan Zimmer, Secretary General of the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association. “EHIMA engineers contributed their specialist knowledge to improve the audio experience, especially for hard-of-hearing people.”

The specifications to fully define Bluetooth LE Audio are expected to be released throughout the first half of 2020. Products that make use of it will begin appearing some time after that.

Source: Bluetooth SIG