Bluetooth Phones and Mac OS X in Perfect Sync

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Derrick Story

Derrick Story
Mar. 12, 2004 10:49 AM
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A great benefit to being a technology writer is that I can rationalize just about any new toy purchase, even if it's justifying it to myself. A chapter in my soon-to-be-released book, Digital Photography Hacks, focuses on camera phone tricks. Of course I had to get my hands on a camera phone to fully explore its hackable nature.

I played with a Treo 600 for a while, and really enjoyed using it. In fact, you'll see it in some of the book illustrations. But the Treo had a major drawback: no Bluetooth. Since my PowerBook has Bluetooth built in, and I'm running Mac OS X, it seemed to me that any phone I get serious about needs to have this connectivity.

I sought the advice of MobileWhack guru, Rael Dornfest, and he suggested I look at the Sony Ericsson Z600 Smartphone. Among its other great features, the Z600 has Bluetooth and syncs nicely with Mac OS X. After just a few days of use I came to one conclusion: Bluetooth is important to me.

Here are a few areas that I've come to appreciate how this technology improves my daily workflow:

  • File Transfer - I take a picture with the Z600's camera phone, then send it to my PowerBook or the Palm Tungsten T2. It takes seconds to do so. I can transfer other files among the devices just as easily.
  • Address Book - I knew there was a reason why I was diligently maintaining the Address Book in Mac OS X. Now my contacts with their phone numbers -- correctly designated as "Home," "Office," or "Mobile" -- are tucked away neatly in the Z600. Took about 90 seconds. Oh, and I can send new addresses directly to the phone from the Address Book app because it is Bluetooth enabled. So I have the option of using iSync or direct sending.
  • Calendar and ToDos - I can even check my appointments in the Z600. iCal data syncs wonderfully too, and it splits my appointments and ToDos into appropriate menus on the Z600. Oh, one hint here, be sure to set your phone's time and date and GMT timezone (in my case -8.00H for San Francisco) for the calendar times to sync correctly.
  • Web Browsing and Email on the Palm -- This is cool. The phone is in my pocket and I'm browsing the Web and checking email on the Palm, which is also BT enabled.
  • SMS on the Palm -- Text messaging is much easier with the Palm than with phone buttons. Palm OS 5 comes with a great SMS client that talks to the phone in your pocket.
  • Share Internet from PB to Phone -- By using a slick little AppleScript called Share2Blue2th, I can use the Z600 to share the Powerbook's Internet connection over Bluetooth out to the phone for syncing Avantgo or testing WAP pages. (Untested at this point. Thanks to C.K. for helping me get this wording right.)

The Z600 has an easy on/off switch for Bluetooth, so when I'm out and about in public, I can turn off the connectivity and not have to worry about Bluesnarfing.

I've been following the Bluetooth story for quite sometime, and I was wondering if this technology was ever going to get off the ground. Well, for Mac OS X users, it's not only off the ground, it's flying high. I'm better organized than ever, and it isn't even work to do so.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.