iPhone OS and external keyboards
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Any word on when we may see the first Bluetooth keyboards for the iPhone? Does the latest iPhone OS allow it?
Unfortunately, this is a slightly more complicated issue than one might expect. Although iPhone OS 3.0 introduced support for third-party applications to access the Dock Connector and Bluetooth hardware for the sake of communicating with third-party accessories, Apple did not provide any driver frameworks for any specific devices like keyboards or game controllers. In other words, although individual applications can access raw data from the Dock Connector and Bluetooth stack, they have to interpret this data and deal with it themselves.
What this essentially means is that each individual application must provide its own driver support for third-party accessories, including keyboards. This also means that there is no capability written into the OS for the use of external keyboards in any of the iPhone’s own built-in apps such as Mail or Safari. Further, the iPhone SDK does not allow third-party developers to write low-level device drivers or background processes to run on the iPhone—each app must run in its own “sandbox” and terminate when exited.
The result of this is that while it’s technically possible for a manufacturer to develop a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone, this keyboard would only work with third-party applications specifically designed to support that particular Bluetooth keyboard, and this support would have to be implemented on an application-by-application basis.
Theoretically, there is no reason why iPhone applications could not be written to take advantage of existing Bluetooth keyboards for other PDA and smartphone devices, except for the fact that each developer would have to code in their own keyboard driver into their own application, requiring much more effort than on other devices where these keyboards are supported by the operating system itself.
With all of these additional complications, it is unlikely that we will see mainstream accessory manufacturers develop iPhone keyboards until such time as Apple themselves provide actual keyboard support in the iPhone OS itself.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Spotify penalizing artists who release Apple Music exclusives
- Apple releases new round of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 betas
- Report: 2017 iPhone to eliminate home button
- Apple to add payment technology to iPhone for transit passes, Apple Pay in Japan
- Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 ‘security update’
- Report: Apple developing its own Snapchat-style social video editing iOS app
- Apple announces Apple Music Festival lineup including Alicia Keys, Britney Spears + more
- Universal calls an end to exclusives amid criticisms that Apple Music is hurting the industry
- Apple reveals some of its upcoming AI advancements for the iPhone
- Apple Music’s royalty rates complicate Spotify’s contract negotiations
- Western Digital My Cloud (OS 3)
- Distil Union Stanley Stand
- Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Bluetooth Toothbrush
- Audeze EL-8 Titanium Over-Ear Headphones
- Defined Corp Dome Stand for Apple Watch and iPhone
- Speck StyleFolio Pencil for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphone
- First Alert Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Logitech Create 9.7” iPad Pro Keyboard Case
- iDevices Outdoor Switch Power Outlet
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app