Apple arming Made For iPhone accessory makers with new Bluetooth authentication protocol
Japanese news site Macotakara (translated) reported last week that Apple has supplied Made For iPhone accessory makers with a new authentication chip using Bluetooth 4.0 and the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, making it easier to setup and authenticate devices for use over the dock connector and Bluetooth with a specific push for fitness and health-related apps.
It was previously speculated that this new authentication system would support Bluetooth for carrying content over AirPlay, but The Verge was able to squash the rumor with a bit of clarification from Apple. Instead, Apple wants more MFI accessory makers to use the new spec in devices like the recently-released Jawbone UP and similar hardware. The process will make it easier for users to configure wireless devices by connecting to WiFi networks and grabbing Bluetooth configuration information, ultimately requiring little effort on the user's part to get everything up and running.
Currently, setting up accessories with with Bluetooth for such devices requires a bit of finagling to get everything to work smoothly. I can attest to this from experience after running into a few hiccups while setting up my Jabra Extreme Bluetooth headset to pair with my iPhone 4, so Apple would do well in bringing this new spec to device makers in order to help take the hassle out of the process entirely.
The Bluetooth Accessory Protocol was introduced in iOS 5, but only around 2 percent of MFI accessory makers are actually utilizing the new stack. Hopefully this new authentication chip will bring wider adoption to less tech-savvy iOS users, but we'll have to wait until we start seeing supporting hardware pop up in the market.