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Bluetooth is a popular method for wirelessly transferring data between two devices such as your phone and your headphones, your media player and a speaker, or your iPad and a keyboard. Bluetooth is one of the most widely used wireless technology in the world, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. More than 3 billion Bluetooth products were expected to ship last year, and that number is expected to double within the next three years.
Bluetooth is great when it works. But, if you’re someone who likes to play around with these kinds of connected gadgets, you know it can be frustrating when there’s a delay when trying to pair the two. Here are the most common causes of pairing problems with Bluetooth:
Bluetooth depends on both hardware and software to work properly. So, if your devices can’t speak a common Bluetooth language, they won’t be able to connect.
Generally speaking, Bluetooth is “backwards compatible;” Bluetooth devices supporting the Bluetooth 4.2 standard, should still be able to pair with devices using the older version of Bluetooth 2.1, launched in 2007.
There is a low-energy variant called Bluetooth Smart, which works on a different protocol than older, or “Classic” Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth Smart devices are not backward compatible and won’t recognize (or pair with) older devices that support Classic Bluetooth.
Devices also come with specific Bluetooth profiles. If Bluetooth is the common language connecting devices, you can think of a profile as the local dialect. For example, you probably aren’t going to connect a mouse and a camera because a camera doesn’t support the Human Interface Device Profile.
However, if the pairing failure is because of a user error, there are troubleshooting steps available to diagnose the problem:
- Make sure that your Bluetooth is on. You should see the little Bluetooth symbol at the top of your phone’s screen. If you don’t, go into the settings to enable it.
- Determine which pairing process your device employs. The process for pairing devices can vary. Sometimes, it involves tapping a code into your phone. In other cases, you can just physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with.
- Turn on discoverable mode. Let’s say you want to pair your phone with your car’s infotainment system so that you can enjoy hands-free calling, texting and navigation.
- Make sure the two devices are in close proximity to one another. While you wouldn’t think someone might try to pair an iPad with a keyboard if the two weren’t sitting right next to each other, it’s probably worth noting that you should make sure any devices you’re trying to pair are within five feet of each other.
- Power the devices off and back on. A soft reset sometimes can resolve an issue.
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