Apple may support Continuity/Handoff for older Macs with Bluetooth LE adapters

“Some Mac users, specifically those with Macs that don’t support Bluetooth LE, weren’t too happy to find out that meant they would likely not get to use Apple’s new Handoff feature to seamlessly switch between apps across Macs and iOS devices,” Jordan Kahn reports for 9to5Mac.

“To be clear, Apple has not yet confirmed details of device compatibility for most Yosemite features,” Kahn reports, “but some users have reported that only Mid 2011 MacBook Airs, Mid 2012 MacBook Pros, late 2012 iMacs, and 2013 Mac Pro or newer models – the Macs that include Bluetooth LE – appear to support the feature.”

“We’ve learned from people with knowledge of the matter that Apple is still testing the feature and yet to finalize which Macs will be capable of supporting it,” Kahn reports. “If Apple does indeed decide that the feature will require Macs with Bluetooth LE, it is possible some older models would be able to use third-party Bluetooth LE adapters to get access to the feature.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Continuity: Yosemite’s coolest feature may not be available to all Mac users – June 16, 2014


    1. …Besides wireless keyboards, mice, trackpads and oldie devices that don’t know any better.

      I too very much prefer minimizing Bluetooth anything. Wi-Fi is vastly superior in bandwidth. If you can use Wi-Fi, forget stupid Bluetooth.

      Bluetooth LE is turning out to have some nice uses, however. The only thing that bothers me is its potential security hazards. If done correctly with the full specification, it should be fine. But the option to skimp on its security is no doubt going to tempt some, with the possible result of hacker invasion. You just KNOW it’s gonna happen with Android devices. But we’ll see.

    2. My guess is that there’s a location/proximity issue. With Bluetooth LE, you can dial it in such that the two devices have to be right next to each other. Thus your Mac and your iPhone, once paired can easily be handed off. If it was WiFi and you’re in an office with hundreds of Macs on the network, there would need to be a period of time consumed with polling over the network.

      But I still think you’re right, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be done at all, especially via iCloud as a managing server. With that, you could hand off regardless of what networks you were on. That would be quite convenient if you forgot to handoff before leaving your office.

        1. No, they’re still paired. You just don’t have to go through a convoluted pairing procedure. That happens automagically through iOS 8 and Yosemite via your Apple ID.

    3. They don’t have to be on the same network.

      One of the best features of the latest Bluetooth standards is peer-to-peer connection.

      Without a wireless router to playing middleman, your devices can connect to each other directly, which is not only faster, but saves the user from having to mess around with network configurations and WiFi passwords. It works when you don’t have Internet, and is theoretically more secure.

    4. It wouldn’t work with WiFi alone.

      WiFi can’t determine proximity and It uses up battery (have to think of the iDevice half and not just the plug in Mac side). Plus WiFi is not always on. When your iDevice goes to sleep/standby (i.e. press the power button to blank out the screen) the WiFi goes off to not drain the battery.

      Bluetooth 4.0 LE uses hardly any power to make its presence known. It is always running, even in standby on iDevices. This is the same as iBeacon tech. Thus, this is how the mac would know that your iDevice is in close proximity and would prompt you (as well as vice versa) to hand off a particular app. I believe the way this works is a combo of both technologies. The initial alert and proximity detection is done via Bluetooth LE. Then an adhoc WiFi connection is made. The key here is this is a direct connection via WiFi between the iDevice and the mac. Thus, this skips the router and network overhead, Since the iDevice has to be in close proximity of the mac, this makes a reliable and fast connection. In addition, this then just “works” without the need to sign on to any WiFi network, in the house. Its more secure since it a point to point connection. No chance of someone snooping on your info over WiFi (especially public WiFi). This also means you can use this on the road, even if you aren’t in a place or location that has Wifi.

      Another critical point of why they chose not to do this strictly via WiFi (i.e. WiFi access points/router) is that this method introduces too many variables. While WiFi seems simple enough, its very complicated when it comes to bandwidth. What people do not understand is how WiFi speed works on consumer based routers/access points. While your device might show full bars, you probably will never see that speed. Even if you are in very close proximity to the access point or router. What you see on your device is “theoretical speed”. Your WiFi speed is based on your weakest link. If you have a printer clear across the house and has a weak signal and lets say has a 5 Mbps signal. it doesn’t matter that your mac is close to the access point and shows 54 Mbps. If you are both on that same SSID, the max speed drops to 5 Mbps. But, that is for all the devices on the network. So if you have only two devices, each is then really pulling down 2.5 Mbps each (even though one shows 54 and the other 5). If you have 10 devices, well…..So you can see why Apple wouldn’t want to go with this approach. Would lead to too many customer complaints about slowness etc. The use of Bluetooth LE and adhoc WiFi strips all of those issues out of the equation and they can work within a known set of parameters and ensure a great customer experience.

    1. I don’t see “Bluetooth LE” in the specs, but if that’s equal to having Bluetooth 4.0, that IS good news. I have a mid-2001 Mac mini, and it has “Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology.”

    1. Quoting from the article linked above:


      There are a lot of cool features coming to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite this fall. One of the most hotly anticipated is Handoff, which enables you to pick up where you left off in an email, a document and other work between iOS and OS X devices. Handoff is elegantly choreographed dance between devices, operating systems and protocols. It’s partly dependent on Bluetooth 4.0, the most recent widespread deployment of the popular short-distance wireless communication protocol, which includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BT LE). So, how can you tell if your Mac is properly equipped to take advantage of it? . . .

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