Introduction to Bluetooth Device Access Guide

This document describes how Bluetooth works and summarizes the Bluetooth specification in order to provide a foundation for understanding Apple’s Bluetooth support. It also provides task information, accompanied by several code examples, that illustrates how to develop applications that access Bluetooth enabled devices.

What Is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is an open specification that enables low-bandwidth, short-range wireless connections between computers and peripherals, such as mice, cell phones, and personal data assistants (PDAs). The appeal of the Bluetooth model lies in its convenience for wirelessly transferring information and small data files between devices.

Bluetooth is not a networking solution, so it is not a competitor of AirPort, Apple’s wireless networking technology. Nor is it a replacement for the cables needed by high-bandwidth peripherals, such as FireWire. Rather, Bluetooth offers a replacement for IrDA (Infrared Data Association) technology, because it is not constrained by IrDA’s shorter range and line-of-sight requirements.

Who Should Read This Document?

Because this document comprises conceptual and task information, its audience is broad. This document sets the stage with an overview of Bluetooth technology. Then, it describes how Apple implements the Bluetooth specification and how to access Bluetooth enabled devices on OS X. If you’re unfamiliar with Bluetooth technology in general, you can read this document for a high-level summary. If you’re primarily interested in learning about how Apple implements the Bluetooth specification, you’ll find a thorough description in this document. Finally, if you’re developing applications that communicate with or control Bluetooth enabled devices, you should read this document to discover your options.

Apple provides application-level access to its Bluetooth API in both C and Objective-C, so knowledge of one or the other is important for understanding the code samples. Additionally, the OS X Bluetooth model is at heart an object-oriented one, so familiarity with object-oriented principles is helpful.

Organization of This Document

This book is divided into three chapters:

See Also

Apple provides comprehensive API reference documentation for its Bluetooth support. For documentation on APIs that support user-space access to Bluetooth devices, see Bluetooth Framework Reference. For documentation on APIs that support a consistent user interface to Bluetooth services, see Bluetooth User Interface Framework Reference.

There are many books that describe Bluetooth technology and the Bluetooth specification. A popular one is Bluetooth: Connect Without Cables by Jennifer Bray and Charles F. Sturman.

To view the Bluetooth specification itself, see This site also provides information about the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and the product-qualification program.

See the Apple Developer Forums for further discussion of classic Bluetooth development issues.