Phones and Bluetooth p2p/discovery

My mobile phone — a Sony-Ericsson T68i — works, and unlike years of Nokias, doesn’t crash. Ever. And even with high usage, the battery will last a couple of days, with Bluetooth enabled. It Just Works.

But the Bluetooth functionality is pretty slim — you can use it to build a serial connection for dialup from a PC or PDA, and that’s about it. And why isn’t that enough? Well, I’ve just upgraded to an iPaq 5450, after a year with a 3870. The 5450 features considerably more mature wireless features, with built-in 802.11 and the first genuinely useful Bluetooth Manager I’ve seen on any device. It’s easy to configure shared folders, security and vCard sharing. All very good for quickly beaming a file to a nearby machine, but with the current generation of battery, no use at all for always-on networking — I can’t just load it up with stuff I want to have visible and sharable adhocly wherever I am. To activate Bluetooth, I have to power up the device and be watchful with power. Unfortunately there is no standby state which just keep the Bluetooth networking and file sharing ticking over while the rest of the system sleeps (does any device have such a thing?).

Which brings me back to the T68i. It’s happily sitting next to me, with Bluetooth active, and decent battery life. But it has no way to passively serve vCards or files. Even if I turn discovery on, the most that anyone proximate will see is an active device called DARRELL_T68: I can’t even include enough text in that device ID to make it a pointer to my website, let alone upload some useful files into it to share pervasively with those in range.

This is a missed opportunity — mobile phones seem to be a couple of generations ahead of PDAs and PCs in power management, but no-one seems to be thinking of ways to use their always-on-ness to serve the needs of pervasive networking (obviously a niche today, but…).

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