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iPhone ad hoc networking

01/14/09 | by Adam | Categories: Games, iPhone, PalmT3

Since migrating to an iPhone, I've been impressed by a lot about it. Naturally though, there are various shortcomings that periodically pull me out of that Jobs reality distortion field of bliss.

Today, it's that reduced Bluetooth stack. Whether due to design to reduce power consumption and complexity or legal and licensing constraints, the iPhone supports only mono headset connections via Bluetooth. From the perspective of being a phone, this is fine. From the perspective of being something better, it's most definitely not. On my old Palm Tungsten the decent Bluetooth implementation meant stereo audio, peer to peer connectivity (like swapping business cards or playing multi-person games), device connectivity (like keyboards) and wireless syncing. None of that is available on the iPhone if you're not currently on a WiFi network, and very little of it is even when you are.

This was brought blatantly clear to me one day while stuck on a bus in a snowstorm. Significant other and I wanted to play Scrabble on the iPhone while we waited (and waited) to reach our destination. The bus was extremely crowded and we weren't sitting near each other so decided to play a wireless game to pass the time. Except we couldn't: the multiplayer support in Scrabble is WiFi only. On my much lamented Tungsten I had a copy of the same game which worked beautifully over a Bluetooth connection between two devices; I rather expected the same to be true with the iPhone. Apple has been positioning the iPhone and particularly the iPod Touch as gaming machines against systems like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP which do the ad hoc network so this limitation strikes me as a major shortcoming.


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