iPhone Life magazine

At last: a working (!) full (!) AVRCP (Bluetooth remote media control) for the iDevice!

As many of you A2DP (high-quality audio) freaks know and also been pointed out in my dedicated articles (last, iPhoneMVP-frontpaged one HERE), full AVRCP hasn’t been supported on the (otherwise, A2DP-capable) iPod touches and iPod’s, not even as of the latest, just-released 3.1.3 firmware. The only way of remotely skipping the current song and stepping to the next one or switching back to the previous one (or rewinding to the very beginning of the current one) was using Voice Control with all its hassles - having to speak to the mike; having to wait; not compatible with anything before the iPhone 3GS / true (that is, not the 8GB model) iPod Touch 3G; with some A2DP headphones not able to initiate Voice Control, having to long-press Home on the iDevice itself etc.

Bluetooth Helper to the rescue! This app, which hit the AppStore yesterday, helps in overcoming the limitation of the missing next/previous support in Apple’s operating system. It’s available HERE and only costs $1. It doesn’t have a, for example, time-restricted lite version for free; however, I don’t think it’d refuse working with your actual headphones model.

It doesn’t make use of the hardware buttons of the headphones; instead, it uses the pause / resume functionality. That is, if you pause playback and, when it indeed stops playing, quickly resume, making sure you do this in no less than 3 seconds (which can be extended – or, if you wish, reduced – in the system-level Settings application), then, Bluetooth Helper will skip the current song and starts playing the next one. Similarly, if you pause the playback and, as soon as you hear it has indeed been put on hold, press the pause / resume button twice, playback will continue with the previous song (or, in some cases, the beginning of the current one).


The main screen of the app, playing back a great audio remix of the C64 title Commando, running on my iPhone 3G S

I’ve tested the app on two different devices and five different A2DP headphones.

- a second-generation iPod Touch running the latest, 3.1.3 firmware, without any kind of jailbreaking

- a jailbroken iPhone 3G S running 3.1.2.

The app worked wonderfully on both iDevices and all headphones compatible with the 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 firmware (which, A2DP-wise, seems to be the same). That is, I had absolutely no problems skipping the current song or stepping back to the previous one on the following Bluetooth stereo headphones:

Altec Lansing BackBeat 903/906
Plantronics Voyager 855
Gear4 BluPhones
Motorola HT820 (model D)


On the jailbroken device, BT Helper worked just fine; also in the background (using Backgrounder). On a non-jailbroken phone, it must, of course, be running in the foreground to remain active.

Unfortunately, as is also reported in my previous article, the Plantronics Pulsar 590 is equally useless under 3.1.3 (tested on the iPod Touch 2G) than under 3.1.2: resuming simply doesn’t work and Bluetooth Helper doesn’t help this either.

Verdict

Worth every penny – go get it.
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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.