Bluetooth and iTunes

An explanation on why iTunes and Bluetooth are not compatible.

Viewer question answering a music playback, Bluetooth and iTunes issue, and an explanation on how to use the shared library functionality correctly.

Episode #4-20 released on February 1, 2014

Watch on Youtube

Recently, I had a question relating to Bluetooth and iTunes. This person explained that he was originally capable of playing his music on his sound system with the help of his iPhone or iPod with access to his massive iTunes music library.

The first issue is that iTunes has no support for Bluetooth. It uses Wifi. You can either push playback to iTunes using Wifi to an Apple TV module, or you can use the shared library functionality and use the iOS device to playback over the sound system using the dock connector or the audio jack.

So, why is there a mix up between technologies, or is there one at all? Bluetooth and Wifi do exactly the same thing, they allow two devices to talk to each other. Bluetooth can normally only communicate within 10 meters, or 30 feet, if you prefer. Wifi can currently go several hundred feet depending on the position of the access point and interference. Wifi, also, has more bandwidth than Bluetooth. It is not feasible to play good quality video over Bluetooth, but it is relatively simple over Wifi.

It is, also, important to note, that even though we can do some simple tasks with Bluetooth and our iPhones/iPods within Windows and Macs, Apple does not offer any native support for Bluetooth in iTunes. It is frankly faster to connect using the cable, or Wifi. It is for this reason that we can easily note that Bluetooth was never actually the issue with the person asking why the functionality disappeared, it was never actually available in the first place in any version of iTunes, on Mac, or Windows. And, no iPhone has ever been able to sync or play over Bluetooth with the exception of contacts, emails, notes and calendar information.

Now, are they phones or Mp3 players than can play or sync over Bluetooth?

Yes and no, if the cellphone is Bluetooth enabled, it can play its own library via Bluetooth, even an iPhone or iPod. This is specifically true if you consider most device manufactures won't ship a device that can't play music wireless in a vehicle.

As for syncing a device, such as an Android over Bluetooth to a computer, you can usually only sync your contacts, emails, notes and calendar information. You could probably find a way to export your apps, or you may have a way over cable to download a backup of your device into your computer, but since Bluetooth is typically slow anyway, and most computers don't support Bluetooth 4.0 LE, it is usually better to avoid using Bluetooth altogether, not to mention that it eats away at your battery if you leave it on and start walking further and further away.

As you may have seen, we haven't talked about any of the good points of Bluetooth yet. I've previously mentioned that Bluetooth is a Pico network, which means that the network for Bluetooth is comprised of a single master device and up to 7 slave devices. A wireless access point can host up to 255 devices, not including itself. It is not recommended, but it is technically possible to do so.

I should, also, note, that Bluetooth networks are usually slave devices connected to a master device like your cellphone where you may want to be able to access or modify information on the master device. This means you can connect a mouse, headset, keyboard, wireless speaker, etc... to a cellphone, computer, laptop, etc... via Bluetooth, things that don't need to connect to the internet necessarily because they have access to the master device. In a Wifi Network, all the connected devices are capable of processing and rendering all the information pushed to them without the help of an alternate master device being connected to them in the first place.

In short, Bluetooth and iTunes are not compatible and never have been. If any issues occur with your iTunes and your ability to stream music or movies, please refer to the Preferences, Sharing Preferences, and make sure your library is shared on your local network, you may also consider using home sharing to allow all computers with iTunes to view and playback you collection of media.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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