iPod Touch Bluetooth Unlocked by OS 3.0

What? Huh? There's Bluetooth in my touchy little iPod Touch? It's probably a given that many consumers had no idea the device has Bluetooth capabilities, remaining dormant... until now.

In all the hoopla regarding the iPhone and the upcoming 3.0 OS, it's less-than-loaded half-twin, the iPod Touch 2G (second generation), sat just off stage, wishing it could chime in on some of the spotlight. But, instead of sulking and hanging its head low, the iPod Touch listened, waited, bid its time until someone caught on that the new OS update would unlock a secret treasure laying dormant within. No, it's not an Alien embryo waiting to burst through the cavity of its slick, touchscreen surface. It's another blue little demon altogether: the sacred Bluetooth.

For many consumers, the revelation of this feature is quite a pleasant surprise. But for tech-savvy fans who have kept up with the technology powering the device, they may already be aware of the Broadcom BCM4325 wireless communications chip planted within; it was discovered back in September 2008 in a hardware tear-down performed by iFixit. To be more specific, the uncovered Broadcom chip was found capable of single-band 2.4GHz 802.11b/g, dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g.  Additionally, it had Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR support and an advanced FM receiver. Simply put, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities were already present in the iPod Touch, with the latter deactivated via software.

At the time, it was widely speculated that the chip was mainly used to communicate with the Nike+ iPod sensor puck accessory, however some believed that perhaps Apple had other sinister plans for the Bluetooth portion, and just wasn't in the mood to share the Bluetooth goodness just yet. Evidently the speculators were correct, as it's now official that the iPod Touch 2G is fully capable of Bluetooth audio and data transmission, able to carry out Bluetooth functions such as wireless streaming 2-channel audio with A2DP, wireless accessory control (perhaps for gaming), and peer-to-peer connections. The upcoming 3.0 OS will enable these features, costing consumers $9.95 to upgrade the current OS to 3.0.

It's not uncommon to see device manufacturers stuff their products with deactivated components, or locking said components via firmware by the request of the supplier. Many Verizon subscribers have lashed out at the wireless provider, having "locked" the built-in GPS chip in BlackBerry devices from 3rd-party navigational applications. Thus, Verizon Wireless customers must subscribe to its VZNavigator subscription service, shelling out an additional $10 per month just for it use alone (not including any data packages). As it stands, BlackBerry users on Verizon cannot use the real-time navigational features in other applications such Google Maps, Yahoo maps and so on, having to settle with triangulation options instead.

However, for a one-time fee of $10, the 3.0 OS upgrade for Apple's iPod Touch seems to be worth every penny, offering not only the new Bluetooth features, but other vast improvements that will make the device that much more useful and fun to play. With peer-to-peer connections, gaming will become even more prominent on the device, offering local multiplayer support previously limited to Wi-Fi connections.

Look for the 3.0 OS upgrade sometime this summer.

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  • paying for something that was already included in the device is shady...even for Apple...

    what was the reason behind holding back full bluetooth support?
  • Hehe suckas... now there is no reason to ever buy an iPhone. Get a bluetooth headset and some voip software on your iPod Touch and you are good to go. (for much cheaper too)
  • So let me get this straight. For only $10 I can use a feature in my iPod Touch that I should have been able to use from the beginning? Considering this is Apple thats a deal. I would have expected to pay much more!!!
    Maybe Apple was just following a page from Sony's playbook. They're not ripping their loyal customers off, they're simply extending the longevity of their system. One purposely makes a system thats difficult to program for and the other disables a useful feature that everyone would like to use, denies its existence, and then charges $10 a pop to turn the feature on through a software download whle the hardware was sitting dormant the whole time.
    Yep, they're both going to hell.