Devices equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 should arrive later this year, according to the Bluetooth SIG. The outfit's Michael Foley says electronics such as smartphones, headsets and computers will ship with Bluetooth 4.0 in the fourth quarter.

The most significant improvement over 3.0 is said to be a new low-energy specification for transmitting small blurts of data over short ranges. That will make Bluetooth 4.0 suitable for watches, pedometers and other tiny gadgets that run on coin-cell batteries.

However, Foley notes that users may not notice battery life improvements for long-range or continuous data communication. Bluetooth 4.0 will consume around the same amount of power as Bluetooth 3.0 while syncing smartphones with notebooks or listening to music with wireless headphones, for instance.

The new spec will have all of its predecessor's capabilities, including the high-speed Wi-Fi feature introduced with Bluetooth 3.0, which lets devices connect to wireless networks where data can be transferred at up to 25Mb/s.