With the emphasis on hands-free cell phone usage while driving these days, a Bluetooth headset is a great accessory to have for your iPhone. All of the iPhone models to date have Bluetooth radios that enable wireless connections with a variety of devices. This Learning iPhone article will explain the iPhone’s Bluetooth capabilities so you can use your iPhone to its fullest.
To back up a bit, Bluetooth is a wireless communications technology that uses radio transmissions to send and receive data. It’s intended to be a low-power transmission method with a limited range, though some implementations can have ranges of up to 100 meters (these are Class 1 devices). Most devices for consumer use, such as Bluetooth headsets, have ranges of up to 10 meters. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is the organization that manages the standards of the technology as well as the licensing and trademarks for manufacturers of Bluetooth devices.
The most recent version of Bluetooth used in most devices on the market today is version 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate). (Version 3.0 has been approved by the Bluetooth SIG, but it is not yet in production in many devices at this time.) The iPhone 3GS uses Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR while the iPhone 3G and first-generation iPhone models use version 2.0 + EDR.
How one device interacts with another via Bluetooth is determined by profiles. Profiles are included in the device’s operating system and they essentially dictate what it can do with connected Bluetooth devices. There are over 20 Bluetooth profiles available (see a full list here at the Bluetooth SIG site), though most devices only incorporate the ones that are needed to suit the primary purpose of the device. When it comes to the iPhone, you could definitely argue that Apple was a bit stingy with the inclusion of Bluetooth profiles since all iPhone models are pretty limited in this area compared to many phones, including many low-end cell phones that cost far less.
Apple recently published a handy chart that shows all of the Bluetooth profiles included in the various iPhone models (click to see a larger version of it on Apple’s site).
As you can see from this chart, Apple chose to implement relatively few profiles in the iPhone out of the 20+ available. The iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G have the most profiles, allowing the use of a hands-free headset or kit, contacts upload to a hands-free headset or kit, stereo Bluetooth headphones and (limited) control of those headphones, and the creation of a personal area network (PAN) for tethering.
The first-generation iPhone (the model with the aluminum casing) has the fewest profiles and is only able to connect to a hands-free headset or kit and upload contacts to it.
Finding Bluetooth accessories
At the very least, you should consider a Bluetooth headset or hands-free kit if you make calls with your iPhone while driving. Many states have already implemented laws that make driving without a hands-free device for your cell phone illegal, and many other states are getting to ready to implement such legislation. There are a ton of quality headsets out there with good feature sets that will work with the iPhone. Jabra, Plantronics and Jawbone are just a few of the brand names you’ll see when searching for a headset or kit. The EverythingiCafe.com store features headsets by these manufacturers and many others across a wide range of price points.
Pairing your iPhone with a Bluetooth accessory
Once you find a headset or other accessory, setting it up so your iPhone can use it is easy. This process is called pairing and it can be done entirely through your iPhone’s Settings menu the majority of the time.
1. First, make sure your Bluetooth accessory is in pairing mode – this usually requires a different button combination than just turning it on and this should be detailed in the user guide.
2. Once the accessory is in pairing mode, go to the Settings/General/Bluetooth menu on your iPhone and turn Bluetooth on if it isn’t already. Make sure the accessory is within range of the iPhone (within 10 meters – closer is better). The iPhone will continue scanning for nearby devices as long as you’re within this Settings menu.
3. The accessory should appear in the list of Devices and will be designated as “Not Paired” on the right. Tap on this line to begin the pairing process.
4. You may be prompted to enter a pairing code to complete the pairing – this should be specified in the user guide for the accessory. Most Bluetooth headsets use 0000 or 1111 in case you don’t have the user guide on hand.
That’s it! The iPhone will pair with the accessory and it will appear in the list of Devices in this Bluetooth menu. Every time you turn the accessory on within range of your iPhone (with Bluetooth on, of course), the devices will connect to each other. If it’s a Bluetooth headset, it will usually
Tapping on the blue arrow to the right of a paired device will show you a button that will allow you to un-pair the device from your iPhone. If the device is actually an OEM hands-free car kit or an after-market kit, you may have additional options on the screen accessed by tapping on that blue arrow.
That’s all for this installment in our Learning iPhone series! If you have any tips on Bluetooth accessories, feel free to share them in the comments below.