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iPod Touch Bluetooth Unlocked by OS 3.0

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 39 comments

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.

This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    icepick314 , March 18, 2009 11:43 PM
    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?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 18, 2009 11:45 PM
    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)
  • 3 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 18, 2009 11:58 PM
    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.
  • Display all 39 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    christop , March 19, 2009 12:35 AM
    Wow!!! Crash -n- Toss are very tricky!!!!
  • 1 Hide
    pharge , March 19, 2009 3:50 AM
    hmm... how about 1st generation itouch? out of luck?

    by the way " Additionally, it had Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR support and an advanced FM receiver. " FM receiver?!....O.o; .... ugh... iFM @ OS 4.0?...;)
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , March 19, 2009 7:59 AM
    Imagine FM in an iPod.

    Now die. Because it isn't going to happen.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 19, 2009 6:59 PM
    eddieroolzImagine FM in an iPod.Now die. Because it isn't going to happen.

    I wonder if this was some deal with the RIAA, disabling FM functionality. Imagine listening to FREE music on your iPod, highly unlikely. Forgetting the fact that the record companies get licensing fees from radio stations, the RIAA isn't going to let you listen to that music when you can buy it at 99 cents a song. That said, you can get FM radios at the dollar store, so hopefully no one thinks they're really missing out on a whole lot here.

    My old Nokia Music XPress x5300 had an FM receiver, but it used the headphones for the antenna. I never found a whole lotta use for it.

    Now, I thought the old iPods had BlueTooth functionality in them, is that not the case, is this the first iPod with BlueTooth?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 24, 2009 4:40 AM
    I dont understand the writers attitude towards this kind of treatment towards its customers. This is a bad trend. First Tivo charges people for no service. Already when you purchase the box, it is capable of recording and being used as a media center, but they lock that function. Now Apple starts charging for things that already is expected to be FREE in ALL electric devices. Next, you will be charged a monthly fee for using your purchased steering wheel or the brakes of your new car. This kind of tolerance for consumers must stop. They must exercise their frustration by boycotting these companies.

    "However, for a one-time fee of $10, the 3.0 OS upgrade for Apple's iPod Touch seems to be worth every penny"
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2009 3:11 PM
    Does anyone know if we will be able to use the IPOD bluetooth to link to the internet via a mobile phone?

    For those people that don't want the IPhone, but like using their IPOD for email when they are traveling, this would mean they can still get their email on the move!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 10, 2009 11:46 PM
    woohoo. i am happy.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 19, 2009 5:35 PM
    You can download the OS upgrade for free. Do a google search. Trust me, the update is not worth any penny. Especially considering the touch has less features than the iPhone, it isn't really worth it at all.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 20, 2009 3:22 AM
    No, you can't use the new bluetooth upgrade to link your Touch to the internet. Makes me REALLY peeved. Fortunately, I figured this out before I purchased anything, so Apple is NOT getting any money out of ME for a firmware upgrade for bluetooth HEADPHONES. Geesh. At least my new SiriusXM app works GREAT!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 20, 2009 3:23 AM
    ok, so sadly the FM receiver is ~still not functional with the 3.0 upgrade :(  I wonder if it even exists... and there are no third party receivers that work (that I've found searching)
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 20, 2009 1:47 PM
    I've installed the 3.0 upgrade and, in my opinion, the $9.95 upgrade is not "worth every penny." Actually, it's practically worthless, unless you really wanted a landscape keyboard. The Bluetooth support ONLY works with speakers. I've tried pairing it with two different Bluetooth hands-free headsets, a hands-free speakerphone, and keyboards. None of them work. The iPod Touch bound with the Samsung hands-free speakerphone, but only works with the speaker, not the mic. No dice for Skype or other VOIP, which is the only reason I could think of to splurge for the upgrade. Ugh. Huge disappointment, Apple. Waste of money.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 21, 2009 5:40 PM
    I've tried to pair 3 different devices to my recently upgraded OS3 Ipod Touch. My PHS-3 headset, my 2005 Toyota Prius, and my Targus USB Bluetooth adapter. Nothing. I've never had good luck with Bluetooth. It's always such a pain.

    What I'm looking for is a Bluetooth headset or headphones that will work with the Skype App on the Ipod Touch. I guess I'll have to buy an A2DP Bluetooth device now?? Bluetooth has always been such a sham.
  • 0 Hide
    luc , June 22, 2009 7:22 PM
    On Sat 6-20-09 I went to two Apple stores Palo Alto and Los Gatos, to find out if the Bluetooth enabled ipod touch would work with a mono Bluetooth head set. 7 out of 7 Palo Alto Apple employees didn't know that Ipod touch had Bluetooh, and had no idea if it would work with a mono headset. Went to the Los Gatos Apple store, 5 out of 5 didn't know that Ipod touch had Bluetooh but were able to figure out that it will only support stereo headsets.

    Has anyone tried a stereo bluetooth headset that worked with the ipod touch?

    Want to use Skype on my 2nd gen Ipod touch without having to be wired to it.
  • 0 Hide
    Weirdo0815 , June 22, 2009 11:50 PM
    I have a Plantronics Voyager 855 that works with my 2nd gen Ipod Touch. It at least works with listening to music and the mic works too. However, I can't get the headset to control the music playback. It doesn't Pause/Play, move Back or Forward in tracks. I know the headset has the function since it works on my Blackberry Curve 8330 and my wife's LG Voyager. The audio quality from the Ipod Touch actually is much better than my Blackberry.

    I am having an issue with this pairing though. Every time I turn off the headset and back on, the iPod can't re-connect without forgetting the device and re-adding it. Its very frustrating.

    My conclusion with the Plantronics Voyager 855 + iPod Touch 2nd Gen is its wonderful when it works but once the headset gets turned off, its back to square one each time.
  • 0 Hide
    Weirdo0815 , June 22, 2009 11:55 PM
    Let me correct something on my earlier post. The Voyager 855's mic does NOT work... it claimed it did but I hadn't actually tested it. I am sorry for the confusion. So the headset is only good for listening to music/audio and nothing else.

    I would assume this is because Apple didn't put in the Bluetooth Profiles right on the iPod Touch version of the 3.0 O/S. I would expect an update to be released to fix this... or at least I would hope so. I too would love to use my headset with Skype via my iPod Touch.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 28, 2009 9:50 AM
    I installed the 3.0 update. The search feature looks alright. Bluetooth is useless as I was not able to transfer files or anything. I didn't pay for The update so I can't complain. But shame on apple for charging it's loyal customers for software updates.
  • 0 Hide
    bjrolston , June 29, 2009 9:15 PM
    I installed the 3.0 update but cannot find out which Bluetooth products are compatible. The Motorola H375 does not seem to work. The iTouch can't seem to pair with it. Not going to waste my money and then find out it doesn't.
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