Are You Making the Most of Bluetooth?

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on February 15, 2015, How To Guides

Bluetooth is pretty old technology these days, and we’re so used to having it that we often don’t think much about what it can do. With WiFi, 3G and 4G our phones have plenty of connectivity options, and it’s easy to forget that you have Bluetooth too. That’s why we’re having a look at how you use Bluetooth, and what you could (and should) be using it for. If you’ve never thought about that Bluetooth button, then you could be missing out…

What Bluetooth Does

Essentially Bluetooth is a communications protocol, and all it does is to allow one device to speak to another device. It really is that simple. And those two devices can be pretty much anything you fancy, though you will need to make sure that both devices are running more or less the same generation of Bluetooth.

And using Bluetooth couldn’t be any easier. Just make sure that Bluetooth is turned on on whichever device you want to use it with, then go to your mobile, switch on Bluetooth there and scan for Bluetooth devices until you find the one you want. Hit connect, and you’re done.

So far, so good. But what can you really use it for?

Hands Free

By far the most popular use of Bluetooth is for hands free sets for calling in the car. With in car mobile use being illegal in most places these days, if you want to talk on your phone in the car, you’re going to need a hands free set. Hands free is convenient, and in most cases you won’t even need to touch your phone. And this is really the only way to use your mobile when you’re driving, which, of course, is why it’s so popular. But Bluetooth can do a lot more…

Music and More Music

Many of us these days store music on our phones. Or we have streaming apps such as Spotify or Google Play Music that allow us to listen to the kind of tracks that we’re interested in. And whilst mobile phone sound technology is a lot better than it used to be, listening to music through your phone without using headphones still doesn’t give great sound quality.

Which is where Bluetooth speakers come in. Grab yourself a Bluetooth speaker (or two, they’re not expensive), set up the Bluetooth network and you can send your music from your phone to your speakers. There’s no hassle with moving music around between devices, and you get awesome sound quality. Plus, you can use your phone to control skipping tracks, and in some cases even the volume that tracks are played at. For music lovers, Bluetooth speakers are a fantastic investment.

What About Printing?

We don’t tend to think about printing from our phones very often, but actually phone printing can be pretty convenient. Rather than waiting until you get to your PC to download files, print web pages, directions or whatever it is you want to do, why not just do it straight from your mobile? You skip a step, and therefore save yourself time.

Plus, many of us already have Bluetooth printers (Bluetooth is pretty standard on printers these days), and probably even have our PCs set up to print over Bluetooth anyway. This is an easy, time saving feature that many mobile users just don’t think about.

Or Keyboards?

Okay, okay, you have a laptop or PC to do your writing on, but every now and again, wouldn’t it be nice to have a real keyboard for your phone? Think about making last minute changes to that presentation whilst you’re on the train, or about sending long emails or keeping up with your blog while you’re travelling.

Bluetooth keyboards are cheap, and very portable (many of them are foldable keyboards). They might not be a necessity, but for some people they can be an elegant solution to a modern inconvenience, and they might be something you want to consider.

File Transfer

There are tons of files that you might want to transfer between your phone and another device, and Bluetooth is a fast and easy way to do this. Send files from your PC or laptop to your phone, or vice versa. You can also send pictures back and forth. Want to trade contacts, pictures, music or other data with someone else? Just set up a Bluetooth connection between your phones. It’s free, so you won’t be spending the cost of a text or email sent over your phone’s data plan. And in most cases, Bluetooth will be faster than sending data by other methods.

Get You Online

Finally, you can also use Bluetooth to get a device such as a laptop online without having to have an internet connection or wireless hotspot. This is known as mobile tethering, and it allows your laptop or tablet to use your phone’s 3G or 4G signal to get online. Setting this up is fairly easy, but there are a couple of things that you should know.

Firstly, many mobile operators forbid the use of mobile tethering. You’ll need to check your operator’s web page and your contract to find out if you’re allowed to do this or not. Be aware that even if your operator allows tethering, your specific phone plan might forbid it. The second issue is that this can get expensive, and fast. Using your mobile data plan to get your laptop online can mean running up huge bills, since your laptop will quickly eat up your allotted data. However, if you’re in an area that has no other options, mobile tethering via Bluetooth can give you the internet connection that you need.

Bluetooth might be old tech, but that doesn’t mean that it’s useless. Newer technologies (such as NFC) are beginning to take over some of the responsibilities that used to belong to Bluetooth. But for the time being, Bluetooth has plenty of uses, and could make your life a lot easier, if only you could remember that you have it. Bluetooth is useful for a lot more than calling from your car!