Transferring data using Bluetooth

In an earlier post, we suggested transferring data from an Android phone to a Windows computer using the USB connection.  The beauty of this system is that you can manage the filing system on the phone using Windows File Explorer, which is a quick and powerful system.

File transfer system

But since most phones and computers now have Bluetooth, which is a wireless system, why not use that, instead of faffing about with cables? The answer turns out to be that Bluetooth doesn’t give you access to the filing system on either machine.  There is only a file transfer system, and a mighty slow one at that.  Indeed, it is somewhat hidden from view, perhaps to discourage its use.

The procedure is as follows.  Firstly pair the phone and computer using Bluetooth in the usual way.  Then, on the computer, go to the icon box at the right-hand end of the task bar and left-click the Bluetooth icon.  Select ‘Receive a file’

Now go to your phone and find the file you want to send.  So, to send a photo, select your photo viewing app, in my case ‘Gallery’, and click on the share icon.  Select the Bluetooth icon in the share destinations and you should find your computer name there. Start the sharing process.  On the computer, you will see the files coming through (you can share an entire folder).  It’s pretty slow, but once the files have come through, you can browse to a suitable folder on your machine and save the files there.  I doubt you’ll want to do this except when you don’t have the cable handy.

I have not tried doing this in reverse, but I assume a similar process will apply.

Other uses of Bluetooth

I have been trying to find out what else you can do with the Bluetooth connection.  You can tether the phone’s mobile data connection to your computer using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.  I’ve always found Wi-Fi to be easier to set up and use.

I have also found that with Bluetooth you can set up something called a personal area network, although I’ve no idea how you’d use this.  It doesn’t appear in the Windows File Explorer list of connections and doesn’t give you access to the filing system on the phone.  It seems that the capabilities of a personal area network are dependent of the ‘Device profiles’ of the two connected devices, which are most likely to be specific types of peripheral rather than two computers. I suspect that Bluetooth is mainly intended for ‘simple’ communications between the device and a peripheral such as a keyboard or headphones.

Here for the long-term?

I’ve read some suggestion that Bluetooth might be a technology with limited usefulness and lifetime. I’ve found it difficult to set up – for example I could not link a Microsoft Surface Bluetooth keyboard to a Raspberry Pi.  I suspect that in automating the connection to the Surface tablet, they have made it too device-specific.

Problems of being device-specific

Microsoft do have a track record of doing this.  For example, I use a Microsoft Wireless Mouse and ‘Sculpt’ keyboard, both of which I find brilliantly functional.  However, because I got them at different times, they each need their own USB wireless dongle. This is rather wasteful of the USB connections on my PC and woe betide you if you break the dongle (not difficult because they protrude from the PC) but it doesn’t seem possible to make them use the same one.

This is because the peripheral and dongle have a specific ID code burnt in during manufacture so that they don’t interfere with others you may have in the same office. Perhaps it’s too difficult and a potential security risk to allow users to change this, although it can be done for some Bluetooth sets.

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