Handoff in Yosemite limited to BlueTooth 4.0 LE enabled Macs

ContinuityIconXOne feature that Apple has touted in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite is “Handoff,” where you can begin work on one Apple device, and then continue that work seamlessly on another. For instance, you will be able to compose an e-mail or Pages document on your Mac, then grab your iPhone, tap the Handoff notice on your iOS screen, and be able to continue your work on these documents without having to manually open them or otherwise transfer them between devices.

This feature works by quickly syncing your workflow between devices with supported apps, and does so over Bluetooth instead of using iCloud or other services that require an internet or direct network connection. Instead, with Bluetooth you simply have to be in the vicinity of your device, and your workflow will be synced properly.

While convenient, and one of the more exciting features of Yosemite and iOS 8 for those who use both Macs and iOS devices, this feature is limited to Macs with Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy, aka. “Bluetooth Smart”) support. This feature of Bluetooth allows enabled devices to maintain constant connections with devices even when in sleep and other low-power modes, allowing for better use with healthcare, fitness, and security services, as well as Handoff in OS X.

Unfortunately, Bluetooth LE is not backward compatible with prior Bluetooth protocols, so this feature will be limited to Macs that support Bluetooth LE (from German site apfeleimer.de):

  • MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or later)
  • Retina MacBook Pro (All models)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Mid 2011 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 or later)

If you have any of these Macs and use them with your iOS devices, then when the new versions of iOS and Yosemite are available as free upgrades, you can look forward to using Handoff between them.

6 thoughts on “Handoff in Yosemite limited to BlueTooth 4.0 LE enabled Macs

  1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    Do you know how the phone call feature, linking your iPhone with a Mac, works? If it uses Bluetooth then the phone would have to be in the same room as the computer. The demo at WWDC seemed to show it working with the phone in another room. That would require a local WiFi network – and for the phone to use it’s cellular connection to receive a call at the same time it was using WiFi to connect with the Mac. That seems to be some pretty fancy juggling.

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  2. darkdreamer4u

    Not sure about the same room requirement: I just got a JAM Plus Wireless Speaker, paired the Bluetooth up with my iPhone and was able to leave the room with my iPhone while the music continued playing out of the speaker uninterrupted…

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  3. darrenoia

    DavidG, I have one that’s supposed to come tomorrow that I plan to use on my 2009 iMac. I’ll report back here what I find.

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  4. darrenoia

    Well, I got this USB adapter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007GFX0PY/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    And while people say it works with Macs, that was not my experience. Neither my 2009 iMac nor older MacBook Pro will recognize it.

    I then tried the recommendations here:

    http://www.atpeaz.com/index.php/2012/using-unsupported-bluetooth-4-0-usb-dongle-with-os-x/

    While it seems like I can activate the USB Bluetooth dongle over the built-in Bluetooth, the best I can get is a brief “connected” message to the iPhone before it disconnects again. I’ve never had good luck with Bluetooth devices in general (except Apple’s keyboard, mouse and trackpad), so this continues my curse. I rather hate Bluetooth as a technology and wish Apple would use something in its place. Oh well.

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