: iPhone 3G and Bluetooth Keyboard?


MacGYVER
Sep 4th, 2008, 01:58 PM
Hello,

Could it be possible, to sync the Mac Bluetooth Keyboard with the iPhone 3G over bluetooth and use the keyboard to type instead of touch screen?

Do you think such a device or technology will be available from Apple or 3rd party in the future?

Places or situations where you might use this. If you could have full access to Pages for example, you could type using a keyboard instead of the screen while at the office or on the train or while at school. Of course in most cases you might have your laptop with you. Kind of like the days of the Apple Newton is where I was going with this.

There are some neat little stands to place your iPhone 3G on, so that you can watch videos hands free. A keyboard to go along with it, would be ideal over bluetooth. No wires!

It's a crazy and wild idea of mine, but who knows, maybe someone will come up with something. :lmao:

bgw
Sep 4th, 2008, 02:23 PM
An almost pocket sized computer...

I'd love it. Especially for travel. You could use it for backing up photos, and doing the occasional Keynote presentation.

MacGYVER
Sep 5th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Wow, one response :lmao:

Over at Macrumors, this is a huge topic of discussion, someone else there had started this, and I just came from reading the entire thread. It seems, that there is a huge demand for a bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone 3G. Mainly from business people who would love to take notes while at meetings on their iPhone instead of lugging around a laptop to the meeting.

According to one person, they actually contacted MacAlly who was supposed to release a Bluetooth Keyboard for iPhone 3G back in March. Due to Apple, MacAlly is not aloud to release the keyboard yet. So, they have it ready, but Apple has a problem perhaps?

There is absolutely no reason for Apple not to allow their own bluetooth keyboard, or MacAlly's bluetooth keyboard or any other 3rd party to work with the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3G has bluetooth capabilities, uses OS X. It should be easy for Apple to implement this technology, is it Steve Jobs who is being stubborn? and wants everyone to use the touch screen at all times instead? I love the touch screen, it's great when you're on the go. With bluetooth technology, it seems we are hindered to only what Steve Jobs will allow on the iPhone 3G and nothing else.

HowEver
Sep 5th, 2008, 03:20 PM
How would Apple prevent a company from releasing a supporting product?

That makes no sense.

MacGYVER
Sep 5th, 2008, 03:28 PM
Pretty simple. You would think that Apple's bluetooth keyboard, would work when paired with another bluetooth device like the iPhone 3G right? It doesn't work, as this has been tested. So, it is Apple who is responsible for not allowing this to happen. Perhaps it is just a simple software fix in OS X on the iPhone 3G that would allow any 3rd party including Apple's own bluetooth keyboard to be used with the iPhone 3G.

There is probably not a lot of pressure put on Apple to let this happen, but I would love to see it some day soon :).

gmark2000
Sep 5th, 2008, 09:41 PM
It doesn't even have to be bluetooth. I'd buy one that connected to the dock like Palm did six years ago.

http://www.oreillynet.com/wireless/2003/01/30/graphics/image012.gif

MacGYVER
Sep 5th, 2008, 10:11 PM
Wow, I remember using that set up many years ago as well. I agree, even connecting to the dock would be fine with me.

zlinger
Sep 5th, 2008, 11:48 PM
What I'd like to see is the ability to load Mac OS X on the iPhone, with both a bluetooth mouse and keyboard supported. That would be awesome!

AgentXXL
Sep 6th, 2008, 04:43 AM
Something like the Logitech DiNovo Mini would be nice:

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/keyboards/keyboard/devices/3848&cl=ca,en

Alas even at the street price of $140, the cost is more than half that of an 8GB iPhone! Ouch! I think the old Palm docking keyboards were about $40... that's more like the price range I'd be happier with.

chas_m
Sep 6th, 2008, 05:21 AM
What I'd like to see is the ability to load Mac OS X on the iPhone, with both a bluetooth mouse and keyboard supported. That would be awesome!

Um, Mac OS X *is* on the iPhone. What OS do *you* think it's running?

As for the bluetooth, there's nothing sinister about "Apple" not supporting such devices; it's simply that, in the name of economy of space, the iPhone team implemented only the barest of bluetooth instructions in it. The fact is that the iPhone's bluetooth cannot support ANY bluetooth device other than one specific class: monophonic headsets.

MacGYVER
Sep 6th, 2008, 10:01 AM
Actually, Apple has purposely not allowed such connections to the iPhone through its SDK and that is why companies like MacAlly will not be able to utilise devices like a keyboard for the iPhone. Apple at this time does not want to see devices being able to transmit data hooked up to an iPhone such as a keyboard. Until Apple opens up the SDK to the iPhone to allow this, we will not be seeing this in the near future. I'm hoping that with some pressure, perhaps Apple will change its mind.

Dominator
Sep 6th, 2008, 06:12 PM
I would guess the hardest part would be creating a driver of sorts. You then would probably have to jailbreak your phone and then you'd have to worry about it not working with every firmware release unless apple releases something. I'm pretty sure somebody did this with the psp and used his treo bluetooth keyboard to type and surf etc.

chas_m
Sep 6th, 2008, 11:43 PM
Actually, Apple has purposely not aloud such connections to the iPhone through its SDK and that is why companies like MacAlly will not be able to utilise devices like a keyboard for the iPhone.

And the reason for this IS ... [see my previous post!]

Visnaut
Sep 7th, 2008, 12:05 AM
No you will not see this any time soon. The reason is two-fold:

Apple did not include it by default because of battery life issues, and for practical usage reasons. I mean, really, think about it: if you're in a situation where you're stationary and have enough space for a keyboard, and you really need to type that much, and for that long, then why don't you have a laptop instead? And what app are you going to use? Are you going to be writing novels in Mail?

Secondly, you're not going to see any external vendor implement it by themselves, because it would require getting deep into the OS and writing drivers. Apple is in no way going to compromise the security of the device by letting any fool write drivers that can kernal panic your phone. The SDK is extremely high-level and abstracted for that very reason.

So really, your best bet is to just forget it, and use the phone as it was intended to. Oh and you're not 'aloud' to use the word 'aloud' in place of the word 'allowed' anymore, MacGYVER.

MacGYVER
Sep 7th, 2008, 12:19 AM
Thank you, typo fixed :).

At first, I thought I was the only one with this idea, but I am not alone. Devices that had external keyboards in the past were:

Apple Newton
Palm Pilot

As for having a laptop with you at all times, the idea came from actual business people who suggested using the iPhone for those times where they didn't want to carry around their laptop to meetings. I'm sure students in lectures would love the idea as well. For now, the laptop is the ideal tool for the above examples.

gmark2000
Sep 7th, 2008, 10:09 AM
I've got three Palm keyboards gathering dust at home.

They are elegant implementations that really are useful for character input at meetings where you don't want to schlep a laptop.

http://i2.iofferphoto.com/img/1082012400/_i/2799534/1.jpg

IMHO it's not really a huge stretch to tap into the dock and implement external character input.

irontree
Sep 7th, 2008, 10:52 AM
I seriously doubt that bluetooth will be used on the iPhone for anything other than a headset... You can't even do bluetooth file transfers

MacGYVER
Sep 7th, 2008, 11:34 AM
You're correct.

Apple has really taken a technology like bluetooth, and made it barely useable on the iPhone. In fact, Apple has made it so that only a very limited or should I say handful of bluetooth headsets can be used with the iPhone 3G.

What does the competition allow? You can do file transfers of music, photos or files over bluetooth, this goes for phones that are 3 years older then the iPhone 3G, who do not have touch screen. You can use 3rd party bluetooth headsets, and the market is big.

It's frustrating to see Apple have bluetooth technology, but then not incorporate it fully into such a device like the Apple iPhone 3G. Just to clarify, if a keyboard were to be made, it wouldn't necessary have to be bluetooth, if battery power is a major concern.

gmark2000: I have one of those as well ;)

By the looks of it, this topic is a hot one here at ehmac, with almost 400 views.

chas_m
Sep 7th, 2008, 12:20 PM
I should clarify that I'm not saying I'm against the idea of expanded Bluetooth functionality, nor am I defending Apple's choices in this area -- just explaining them.

I'd love to be able to use a good set of bluetooth (stereo) headphones with my iPhone, and although I don't quite see the point of a bluetooth keyboard, would be happy if the bluetooth on the iPhone allowed for such devices (and file transfers, etc).

My guess is that as the storage medium for the iPhone (flash memory) becomes cheaper and the available space becomes greater, the OS will get closer and closer to "full blown" OS X in many areas, including this one.

Gnomon
Nov 2nd, 2008, 05:33 PM
No you will not see this any time soon. The reason is two-fold:

Apple did not include it by default because of battery life issues, and for practical usage reasons. I mean, really, think about it: if you're in a situation where you're stationary and have enough space for a keyboard, and you really need to type that much, and for that long, then why don't you have a laptop instead? And what app are you going to use? Are you going to be writing novels in Mail?

Secondly, you're not going to see any external vendor implement it by themselves, because it would require getting deep into the OS and writing drivers. Apple is in no way going to compromise the security of the device by letting any fool write drivers that can kernal panic your phone. The SDK is extremely high-level and abstracted for that very reason.

So really, your best bet is to just forget it, and use the phone as it was intended to. Oh and you're not 'aloud' to use the word 'aloud' in place of the word 'allowed' anymore, MacGYVER.

Visnaut, I agree that we're not going to see a Bluetooth HID profile entry on the iPhone anytime soon, but I'm afraid that both (well, all three) of your stated reasons are incorrect.

First of all, bulk: you argue that if you're stationary and have a need to type a large amount of text, you should be using a laptop. I'm afraid that this misses the point. I have used a long series of pocketable devices with folding keyboards (the earliest being a Sony Clie with a lovely KB100, and the most recent being a Nokia E50 with an iGo Stowaway keyboard) and I am nowhere near being the only person with this usage profile. At last count, I appear to average about 300 kilobytes typed per month. The convenience of having a pocketable device paired with a pocketable keyboard - the iGo is smaller than your average slim paperback - creates opportunities for creativity that otherwise don't exist. Transit time, coffee breaks, the little interstices when you're waiting for someone to arrive: suddenly those can become productive pockets of time. Laptops simply don't fit into that space.

As for what app you're going to use, a text editor is hardly the most complicated piece of software in existence. Hell, I've typed a few megabytes (seriously!) of text on my E50 using a little text editor written in Python. It tips the scale at 24k. If the functionality were there, I would put money on solutions appearing in the App store within days, rather than weeks.

It's very unlikely that Apple excluded Bluetooth keyboard support for battery reasons. Are you aware of how low-power Bluetooth really can be? The entire protocol is designed to draw as little electricity as possible (well, and to be as cheap to implement as possible, but that isn't pertinent to this discussion). Most keyboards power down the radio between keypresses; the radios on the sending and receiving devices will throttle down their power to fit the current use profile (130wpm translates to roughly 15 bytes/second, including protocol overhead; double that for good measure, then consider that Bluetooth can handle upwards of 500k/s in the best case. Recall that Shannon's Law allows you to dial down transmission power in exchange for decreased speed, then consider that most keyboards will be right up against the device with which they are communicating, and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about).

More anecdotally, I can say that after a year of pretty heavy use, my experience is that I charge my E50 every five days or so (and that's with its original BL-5C battery). I used to turn off Bluetooth because I believed it would affect my battery life, but that turned out to be incorrect. Now I never bother. I've replaced the pair of AAA cells in my keyboard twice this year (and that includes the time I yanked them for use in the TV remote).

As for Bluetooth drivers being able to cause kernel panics, I'm afraid that just isn't the case. The only part of the Bluetooth driver which communicates with the hardware directly is the very bottom layer, and that has already been written by Apple: the primitive channel- and radio-management code is what the rest of the driver profiles are built on (that's why they call it a Bluetooth stack, incidentally: because more complex protocol layers leverage the more primitive ones). One of the great advantages of the Bluetooth stack driver model is that the kernel-mode driver layer can be thin, well vetted and incredibly robust.

Furthermore, the HID profile required for keyboard (and mouse) support is *trivially* simple. This isn't conjecture, it's fact: you can examine the Linux HID driver, for example, at git.kernel.org - linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-2.6.27.y.git/blob - drivers/hid/hid-input.c (http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-2.6.27.y.git;a=blob;f=drivers/hid/hid-input.c;h=0ef778aee990dee5368447376ea18b4ccfbbd3a9 ;hb=acc0b7c40983c316bc69d97b1acf05a228b0d61e) . That's 1000 lines of code, of which about half are dedicated to simple tables which name all the keys (and about a quarter of which are dedicated to handling non-standard Apple keyboard layouts, coincidentally). The HID layer, or indeed any layer of the Bluetooth stack, cannot crash the lower layers of the driver, and certainly cannot cause a kernel panic, unless the driver is written with absolutely no QA at all. Apple's Bluetooth support has historically been excellent.

Finally, your last off-hand argument is actually your strongest: "your best bet is to just forget it, and use the phone as it was intended to". Apple is unlikely to introduce a Bluetooth keyboard driver because that's not the intended purpose of the device.

Asserting that they cannot for practical reasons, however, is simply ill informed.

Gnomon
Jan 2nd, 2009, 11:45 PM
Asserting that they {Apple} cannot {support Bluetooth keyboards} for practical reasons, however, is simply ill informed.

Lo and behold, two solutions present themselves: one is an awkward hardware workaround, and the other looks like it's shaping up to be an elegant software hack: iPhone hacked to work with standard Bluetooth keyboard (http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2009/01/02/iphone-hacked-to-work-with-standard-bluetooth-keyboard)

Adrian.
Jan 2nd, 2009, 11:58 PM
Lo and behold, two solutions present themselves: one is an awkward hardware workaround, and the other looks like it's shaping up to be an elegant software hack: iPhone hacked to work with standard Bluetooth keyboard (http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2009/01/02/iphone-hacked-to-work-with-standard-bluetooth-keyboard)

That is neat.

Someone needs to make it pretty and hold the iPhone at a nice angle and they are rollin' !