Apple Backs Wi-Fi Direct, Indicates Better Peer-to-Peer On the Way

wifi_logoMove over Bluetooth, there’s a new direct device connectivity technology out there, and it’s on track for a mid-2010 production rollout. The tech in question is Wi-Fi Direct (previously known as “Wi-Fi peer-to-peer”), and Apple is now one of its main proponents, along with other heavy hitters like Microsoft, Intel and Sony.

With legacy device support, improved speed, and easier connectivity than Bluetooth but with a lot of the same functions and usages, Wi-Fi Direct is expected to be in ‘direct’ competition with the older device-t0-device tech when it does eventually see the light of day. With those companies backing it, Bluetooth may be looking at a competition it can’t hope to win.

The only downside of the new standard, when compared to Bluetooth, is that power consumption would be considerably higher using it. According to sources familiar with the technology, Wi-Fi Direct power demands would be “on par” with the requirements of current Wi-Fi tech. It’s hard to find solid numbers quantifying the difference between the two, but sources agree that Bluetooth’s power requirements are best described as “low,” while Wi-Fi is in the “high” range.

But what exactly does Wi-Fi Direct do, and how? Perhaps Wi-Fi Alliance Executive Director Edgar Figueroa, as quoted by AppleInsider, can help clarify things:

Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry. Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn’t available. The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise.

Essentially then, it sounds like a Wi-Fi connection between two devices without the need for an intermediary router or bridge. If so, my only concern would be frequency chatter. If your mouse, keyboard, iPhone, and network are all working on Wi-Fi connections, won’t the interference cause lag time, slowdowns, etc.? Without more detail or a practical demonstration of the tech in action, it’s impossible to tell at this point.

The idea that your iPhone could theoretically connect with your Mac for the purposes of using apps like Remote, or for transferring files, without having to be on the same network controlled by a router is very interesting. At home, this kind of thing is never an issue, since all my devices, both portable and otherwise, are plugged into the Wi-Fi network at all times. But when I’m working from the road, it can be annoying to accomplish, and often involves elaborate network connection sharing over Wi-Fi from my Macbook to accomplish.

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