Bluetooth is such a fundamental part of how so many of us use mobile hardware that it’s far too easy to take for granted, but a ton of work goes into making sure all these disparate devices are able to seamlessly communicate with each other. At the heart of that is the Bluetooth “stack,” the software running on our phones or computers that implements the standards needed for the Bluetooth protocol. Last week, we saw Android 13 make its formal debut, and while it went unnoticed at the time, it turns out that Google’s latest release finally begins to implement a long-in-development new Bluetooth stack.
Moving to a new Bluetooth stack is a complicated process, as there’s so much compatibility oversight that needs to take place — we saw just what can go wrong when Google tried bringing a new stack to Chrome. Android’s been using its Fluoride stack for basically ever now, but ever since Android 11 we’ve been getting whiffs of a new stack in development, called Gabeldorsche. With today’s release of Android Automotive 13, Gabeldorsche is officially live — and it turns out, not just for cars.
Mishaal Rahman has been keeping an eye on Gabeldorsche throughout Android 13 development, and way back during early Beta releases, there was a developer option present to manually enable the new stack. But that option vanished when we got Beta 2 — though the “why” behind that change wasn’t clear at the time. Was Google putting Gabeldorsche on ice once again? Or was it ready to be baked right in?
As it turns out, the truth is something closer to the latter, and the stable release of Android 13 (the one you may already be running on your Pixel phone) takes advantage of parts of Gabeldorsche, like the ability to scan for new devices. While Google hasn’t switched full-on over to this new stack for all Bluetooth functionality, that may still be a move the company is working towards — but when we might hope to see something like that, and what specifically is holding up Google’s progress remains unclear.
Right now, none of this is going to have any impact on you as an Android user; your Bluetooth headphones should go right on working just fine when you upgrade to 13. But an eventual shift to Gabeldorsche makes a lot of sense, and assuming we don’t hit any compatibility hiccups along the way, the new stack promises to be more secure and reliable than ever.