Many Bluetooth headphones still have some sort of physical connection between the earphones, whether it's a wire or a host unit. A while back, Qualcomm launched a tech called TrueWireless Stereo that does away with the wires in favor of connecting left and right earphones themselves via Bluetooth. Now, the company has baked a new version of the tech into its latest low-power Bluetooth SoCs that it says solves most of the issues of the earlier revision.
TrueWireless Stereo headphones are "truly wireless"—two separate headphones that lack physical connections. With first-gen TrueWireless hardware, one headphone is the designated the primary unit, and it gets the audio stream from the device (e.g. a smartphone). It then shares one channel with the secondary headphone. The next-generation tech allows the earbuds to automatically switch between primary and secondary modes. Qualcomm says that added intelligence will be a boon in balancing battery life between the buds.
There's also a new TrueWireless Stereo Plus mode that allows both headphones to connect to the host device directly. Qualcomm says that this should further improve the battery life of headphones using the new tech, since neither of the buds has to play the middleman. Despite the direct connection to both earphones, there's no need to pair them separately, which is convenient. Qualcomm also says that using the headphones this way will reduce audio latency.
Along with the new TrueWireless tech, there's also a new feature coming with phones that use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chipset called Broadcast Audio. Put simply, Broadcast Audio is a feature that allows you to use a single source to send a Bluetooth audio stream to many headphones or speakers simultaneously.
The new TrueWireless tech sounds pretty cool, but you won't be hearing it just yet. The company's only just unveiled the chips that support it, so it says it expects products bearing the new features to arrive in the second half of this year.