Can You Use Bluetooth With the iPad?

Written by anne hirsh
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Using Bluetooth on the iPad is not a simple all-or-nothing situation. All iPads have Bluetooth support, but this support is limited to specific devices. Some reasons for this have to do with the Bluetooth software's method of communicating with the iPad, and some have to do with the iOS operating system that runs the iPad.

Bluetooth Overview

Bluetooth devices set up short range connections, generally about 30 feet or fewer, with other Bluetooth-enabled devices using a "Pairing" system. This allows you to connect devices specifically to each other without connecting to every Bluetooth-enabled device within range. This connection is low-powered and transfers data more slowly than a Wi-Fi or similar type of wireless connection.


Different types of Bluetooth devices feature different profiles. Think of this as each device speaking its own language. The iPad only supports certain Bluetooth profiles, or languages, but it cannot speak to devices that speak an unknown language. The iPad supports A2DP, AVRCP, PAN and HID Bluetooth profiles, but not HFP 1.5 or PBAP. Because of this, you can use a Bluetooth stereo headset designed for listening to music through the AVRCP profile, but not a mobile phone hands-free headset, which most likely uses HFP 1.5.


The iPad's Bluetooth connection supports keyboards, many models of stereo headphones and peer-to-peer networks for applications that allow you to run games from multiple devices in an area, so you and your friends can compete via Bluetooth connection. Due to Apple's software restrictions, Bluetooth mouse and printer support are not available for the iPad as of April 2011. This may change in future software updates, but support for a mouse is unlikely, due to Apple's intent that the iPad's use a touch-based interface.


Launch your "Settings" app on the iPad and choose "Bluetooth" to access the Bluetooth settings. Slide the virtual switch to the On position, and then pair your Bluetooth device with the iPad according to the device manufacturer's instructions. If you have trouble connecting, make sure your iPad is running the latest version of the iOS software, which you can update through iTunes sync if a newer version is available. Using Bluetooth connections will shorten your battery life, so turn the Bluetooth setting off when you no longer need the connection.

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