This post was originally titled "Bluetooth: Why Won't You Work For Me?" when I published it, but I've now updated the title to something more apt. Read on to see why.
Last night I was at our Calgary Pocket PC Usergroup Meeting, and I gave one of my business cards to someone that came for the first time. Yeah, I'm a bit old-school when it comes to business cards, I prefer paper to beaming.
At any rate, the person didn't have a business card in return, so I suggested a Bluetooth beaming from his I-Mate Jasjar to my Qtek 8500 (HTC Star Trek) phone. I knew my Bluetooth was turned on, so I expected it to work. He saw my device, tried the transfer, and it failed. I went in and checked my Bluetooth settings, and while Bluetooth was turned on, it wasn't in Discoverable mode...but if that's the case, how did he see my device to begin with? We tried a few more times, and it continued to fail. He was able to Bluetooth squirt his contact from the Jasjar to a Motorola Q that our moderator Jeff Rutledge had without a problem. Jeff then tried a Bluetooth transfer from the Q to my Qtek 8500 - it also failed. I tried turning Bluetooth off, then on again, putting it in Discoverable and non-Discoverable mode, and nothing worked. I tried rebooting my phone, which I often have to do when the dial-up networking stops...networking. No change. I ended up using VoiceMinder to send myself a reminder to ask Jeff for the contact via email later. How lame is that?
This morning I did a few more experiments with my own Jasjar, and was able to reproduce the same problem. I know what you're thinking: this is a problem with the Qtek 8500, not Bluetooth. The problem is that both of these devices are Windows Mobile 5 devices, with AKU2 on them, and both are using the Microsoft Bluetooth stack. If you can't have stable, compatible communication among devices with the same operating system and same Bluetooth stack...how can we ever rely on it?
Ok, so the ever-wise Janak pinged me a few minutes after this post went live, and after some discussion we managed to figure it out. Are you ready for this? On my Qtek 8500 Smartphone, if I go into Settings > Connections > Beam
, the box is un-checked by default, meaning it will refuse all incoming beams without even prompting the user
. I've never even looked at that setting on this Smartphone, because it lacks an infrared port, so why would I check Beam settings? You'd think that all relevant Bluetooth settings would be on the Bluetooth settings screen, wouldn't you? Like, say, a setting that would allow/disallow your device from receiving any sort of incoming Bluetooth "beam" (bad term for it to begin with, it muddies the water with IR). But wait, it gets better: even after I enabled my phone to receive incoming "beams", it wouldn't work smoothly. The Qtek 8500 tried to set up a full partnership with the Jasjar, which isn't what I wanted of course. Puzzled, I checked my Bluetooth settings again - and Obex Authentication was turned on (I don't recall turning it on - can anyone with a Qtek 8500 or Cingular 3125 confirm for me what the default state is?). That means my phone would completely refuse all incoming Bluetooth OBEX transfers (contact cards, appointments, etc.) automatically without prompting the user.
So let's recap, there's one, possibly two settings configured, by default, to completely ignore incoming Bluetooth OBEX transfers without prompting the user at all
. Did anyone actually use
the Qtek 8500 before they shipped it? I can't say this for sure, but I'm willing to bet this is the Windows Mobile default configuration, locked down for maximum security and minimal thought for end-user scenarios, and the Windows Mobile team was expecting the OEM to change it. Just like they expect the OEMs to change the registry setting for the Internet Explorer Mobile cache size. And the caller ID photo size. And everything else that the OEMs completely ignore when they rush a device out the door. I wish I could say this surprises me, but it doesn't: Microsoft continually uses poorly thought-out default settings, the OEMs don't change them, and the end user suffers. Does anyone care about the actual usability of these products? From where I'm sitting right now, it doesn't seem like it.