What is Bluetooth multipoint and how does it work? - MrLiambi's blog


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Tuesday, 9 August 2022

What is Bluetooth multipoint and how does it work?

Bluetooth audio has revolutionised the headphone game. For us, there's no going back to untangling cables, we've fully embraced the wireless future.

This brave new world isn't hassle-free, however, especially when you're trying to use your Bluetooth headphones with more than one device.

That's where multipoint comes in, a solution to one of Bluetooth audio's most frustrating problems.

In this article, we'll dive into what it is, how it works and how you can get your hands on it. So, let's get started.

What is multipoint Bluetooth?

Surprisingly, multipoint was introduced way back with the release of Bluetooth 4.0, over a decade ago. Early iterations were clunky, to say the least, but it has improved significantly in the time since.

Multipoint allows you to connect a Bluetooth headset to two, or more, devices at once. So, you could be listening to music on your laptop, while still hearing notifications from your phone, for example.

Without multipoint, you would need to unpair and re-pair the headphones every time you wanted to switch between devices, which is time-consuming and frustrating.

Another neat feature of multipoint is that it prioritises phone calls, so if you're watching a YouTube video on one device but receive a phone call on another, then you'll automatically be switched over to answer the call.

How does multipoint work?

Get your nerd hat on, we're going in deep. When you connect your Bluetooth headphones to a smartphone (or any other device), it creates something called a piconet.

A piconet is just an extremely small network, in our example, it's a phone and some headphones making up the entirety of this network.

The headphones are in charge in this situation, and the phone will listen for instructions to play, pause or change the volume. The headphones also tell the phone what audio codec and bitrate to use, to ensure compatibility.

When headphones support multipoint, it means that their piconet can have extra followers (or audio sources). The headphones will still be telling the devices what to do but will choose to prioritise one over the other depending on the signal that's being broadcast.

There are a few different types of multipoint connections, here's how they differ:

Simple multipoint

By far the most common type of Bluetooth multipoint connection, simple multipoint lets you connect to two devices simultaneously. When the secondary device begins to play audio it will pause the primary device's audio and switch over.

Advanced multipoint

Advanced multipoint is a very business-centric option. It works in the same way as simple multipoint, but it has a feature for receiving calls on multiple phones. If you are on a phone call, but then get another call on your secondary device, answering the new call will put the original call on hold.

Triple connectivity

You can probably guess how this one works, it's the same as simple multipoint, but this time you get support for three devices simultaneously. Perfect if you've got a personal phone, a work phone and a laptop, for example.

Proprietary automatic switching

Some manufacturers have chosen to develop their own proprietary versions of multipoint, most famously Apple and Samsung. These systems are often more refined than the generic multipoint option, but they come with a big caveat - they only work with devices in the manufacturer's ecosystem.

How can you get multipoint?

For something that's so handy, and developed so long ago, multipoint is offered by surprisingly few headphones. We're not sure if this is in the interest of keeping costs down, or if manufacturers just don't think it's refined enough to include it in their products.

Either way, once you've gotten used to the convenience, it's a hard thing to give up. And if you're constantly switching between your laptop and mobile device, we'd definitely recommend giving it a try. Here are some of the best headphones that we've tried with multipoint support:

Of course, you could always go with a proprietary option. These offer a really sleek experience, at the cost of wider compatibility:

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/headphones/news/162195-what-is-bluetooth-multipoint-and-how-does-it-work

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