Monday, November 16, 2009

Android and A2DP bluetooth support

I've been watching "Mad Men", right from season one, episode one, via Jetflicks on my HTC Magic android phone and really enjoying it. The only problem I have is my phone uses the same USB port for the headphones as it uses to charge the battery. I can either listen to the phone via headset OR charge it. If I want to do both, I have to use the phone's external speaker and annoy other people nearby who may not share my taste in TV programs enough to want to listen to it without seeing it.

The HTC Magic supports A2DP bluetooth and there is no physical reason why I can't listen to whatever I want over a set of stereo bluetooth headphones. It seemed to be the ideal solution. I went out and bought a pair of Sony DR-BT21 headphones. They work fine with the phone, but I can't get them to play any music / video via any media player. If the phone's Bluetooth is set to media-only mode (the support to enable this is partially there), I can't connect the phone to the headset. But re-enabling the phone audio allows the headset to connect to the phone.

A bit of Googling revealed why. Android in v1.6 (Donut) only supports HFP (Hands Free Profile) and HSP and doesn't support the A2DP bluetooth profile required to use this stereo bluetooth device. The HTC Magic phone supports it, the headset can do it......but the stock Android ROM loaded on vendor phones can't do it and won't until they are updated with software than can support it.

It is possible to load alternative versions of Android (Like Cyanogen) that do include A2DP support, but then you risk cutting yourself off from the standard support path for future software updates and at the same time expose yourself to Android without the default Google 'love' included with almost all Android phones. You'd have to add that yourself, which can be done, but it's more messing around. Besides, future updates will almost certainly include the missing A2DP support.

At this point, I'm not sure "Mad Men" is the compelling event to drive me off the standard path. Even adding the ability to make my phone a Wi-Fi access point (Cyanogen again) isn't enough. If I had a second phone to play with.....I'd be in like a robber's dog. Maybe that's the way to go.

UPDATE - 2009-11-18:  After several more attempts, I gave up trying to get the Sony headset to do media audio with my HTC Magic, so I tried it with my iPod Touch. The headphones worked and sounded great. I was asked to enter the PIN number. The next day (today) I tried them again with the HTC Magic....and they now work! It's full stereo, too.  NO IDEA why they now work....but they now work. Maybe activating them with the iPod Touch was enough to enable them to work with my android phone.
UPDATE 2 - 2009-11-18: I've just discovered the Meridian media player app respects the (AVRCP) jog, FF and REW buttons on the Sony bluetooth headset provided the app is in the foreground. I have 100% functionality now! Awesome.

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6 comments:

  1. I've used bluetooth stereo headsets to listen to music on my HTC Magic.

    This is on 1.5 with a stock vodafone ROM though - I haven't tried with 1.6 since updating.

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  2. Chris: Thanks for letting me know. My Sony headset won't connect to the phone as anything other than a phone headset...and I can't hear any music through it. The same headset plays music fine via Bluetooth with my Apple iPod Touch. I'm thinking the next update will probably sort me out...and that update sounds like its only a month or to away. I've bought a second HTC Magic and I'll be loading Cyanogen on it as soon as I get my hands on it....and that will sort me out in the short term. :-)

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  3. UPDATE - 2009-11-18: After several more attempts, I gave up trying to get the Sony headset to do media audio with my HTC Magic, so I tried it with my iPod Touch. The headphones worked and sounded great. I was asked to enter the PIN number. The next day (today) I tried them again with the HTC Magic....and they now work! It's full stereo, too. NO IDEA why they now work....but they now work. Maybe activating them with the iPod Touch was enough to enable them to work with my android phone.
    UPDATE 2 - 2009-11-18: I've just discovered the Meridian media player app respects the (AVRCP) jog, FF and REW buttons on the Sony bluetooth headset provided the app is in the foreground. I have 100% functionality now! Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Definitely weird, glad you got it sorted though.

    Bluetooth devices are amazingly difficult to get working. Needing magic button presses, pin numbers, etc. There must be a better, more user friendly, approach!

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  5. Interesting blog you got here. I'd like to read more about this theme. The only thing I would like to see on that blog is some pics of some devices.
    John Watcerson
    Cell phone jammer

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  6. I recommend going with CyanogenMod.

    Your unlikely to cut yourself off from future upgrade paths since you can often grab the original version of the Roms or do a backup of your current one using Nandroid.

    In addition to that, using roms allows you to get heaps of features you wouldn't get on the official upgrade path, generally earlier.

    Phone companies wan't you to buy new phones to get new features, they are unlikely to keep updating the software for 2 years which is the length of many contracts. While the G1 and the Hero are likely to get Android 2.1 soon (of course 2.2 has been released for a while now), the magic/mt3g have mostly been forgotten (apparently it is getting the 2.1 update sometime but they didn't make any real announcements like they did with the others). I won't be holding my breath for 2.2 and so on although 2.2 should run better on the underpowered devices and there where rumors than Google have it working on most of them, also the later Gingerbread release is supposed to be modular making it much easier to maintain and allowing individual features to be rolled out rather than the whole rom.

    ReplyDelete

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