Apple Goes Blue: Bluetooth, that is. In a move that surprised me, at least, Apple offers up a Bluetooth technology preview, working with D-Link's USB-based Bluetooth adapter, which Apple will offer for $49 through its Apple Store starting in April coupled with some OS X 10.1.3 software. They are careful to hedge their bets, billing the software as a preview and not listing specific devices. Palm owners, start your salivating: with Palm backing Bluetooth as a sync technology and Apple offering the hardware and OS support, I expect the next release of Palm's beta (or 1.0) of Palm Desktop for OS X will include Bluetooth support.
I talked to Apple today about its new Bluetooth support (more accurately, shortly upcoming support), and they made it clear that part of their interest in making this technology available is to turn the Mac once more into a technology-done-right showcase. As with 802.11b, FireWire, and USB, Apple was not only the first or one of the firsts, but they were and remain the premier platform on which the technology is used without fuss through hardware abstraction and OS integration.
Likwise, with Bluetooth, they worked with a single vendor (D-Link) which can supply a device cheaply that works with their Bluetooth 1.1 compliant stack. Their stack is as standard as they could make it, and it has a potential of pushing their implementation of the standard out into the marketplace because the one place that vendors of Bluetooth-enabled devices can point their users is going to be an Apple Mac OS X 10.1.3-equipped machine.
Apple pointed out that GPRS phones with Bluetooth built in will work work with their Bluetooth add on as simply as selecting Bluetooth from the Internet Connection manager software and entering the values a cell provider gave for their network connection. (This is currently possible with USB or infrared in some cases.)
The Apple message: Wi-Fi is wireless Ethernet; Bluetooth is wireless USB. A good clear message. Apple, in fact, won't be building LAN features into their Bluetooth stack, even where those might be available or implementable, because they want to focus LAN work onto AirPort, their Wi-Fi hardware.
More Bluetooth news: 802.15.1 approved: the numbering may be overwhelming, but stay with me. The 802.15 Working Group is dedicated to Personal Area Networks (PANs). Task Group 1 (802.15.1) had a mission of converting the Bluetooth 1.1 specification, developed outside of the IEEE process, into a 802-compatible set of procedures. Meanwhile, a few months ago, Task Group 2 (802.15.2) worked out a plan for co-existence in which PANs and WLANs could avoid trampling on each other's signals.