iPhone With Bluetooth Keyboard

If there is one complaint people have about their iPhones, it’s that the popular cellphone doesn’t have the option of a physical keyboard to type on. That has now changed, at least if you’ve “jailbroken” or modified your phone so it can download unauthorized software.

Matthias Ringwald, a PhD specializing in wireless sensor networks in Zurich, Switzerland, launched a piece of software called BTstack Keyboard, which will let users use Bluetooth-enabled keyboards with their iPhones. The software is available through the unauthorized app marketplace Cydia for $5.

IPhones rely on typing text using a virtual keyboard on the display screen, an attribute that does not appeal to some people. The handsets have Bluetooth capability–a popular way to connect peripheral devices–but so far Apple has only allowed it to be used to connect with other iPhones to play games or with certain accessories like headsets. Ringwald was one of the users frustrated by the limitation. He spent eight months developing the software before releasing it on Wednesday.

In his description on Cydia, Ringwald says, “Foldable, travel-friendly keyboards have been supported for at least half a decade by all smartphones except by the iPhone… The iPhone Bluetooth keyboard driver fills this gap.”

One iPhone user that is excited is Santa Monica, Calif., doctoral student Jay Freeman, who created the Cydia marketplace where Ringwald’s software is on sale. “The reason why we do this has finally occurred,” he said.

More Bluetooth-enabled capabilities may also be soon to come. Ringwald says he is helping another developer make software that will allow Bluetooth-enabled computer mice to work with iPhones. Another developer has figured out a way to play games on the iPhone with the Wii game controller using software that he’s written, and they are working on creating a similar capability with the PlayStation 3 controller. Ringwald’s wife has also built a Bluetooth-enabled robot car that can be controlled by an iPhone.

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