How to get your iPhone to detect a Bluetooth device

The latest operating system for iPhone and iPad makes pairing Bluetooth devices way easier than ever. If you have installed the latest iOS 6 — you know this because you don't have a native YouTube app and have the new Maps app from Apple — you are ready to go. Getting your iPhone to work with a Bluetooth enabled accessory was a chore that required many steps before. Fortunately, iOS 6 is much user-friendly in this regard and setting up and pairing your devices only requires a couple of taps.

The following steps will be the same wether you have a headset, keyboard, mouse, speakers or any other compatible device that can interact with your iPhone or iPad. Every gadget should come with the instructions to pair both devices for the first time. Pairing simply means recognising each other, which is critical, for example, if you work in an office where people use Bluetooth mice and keyboards. You want to make sure you are using yours!

Make your accessory discoverable

The best way to start is to read the manual of the accessory you want to use to enter a discoverability mode. This makes the gadget recognisable by your device (iPhone or iPad in our case). Depending on the accessory you're using this will do when you turn it on for the first time or perhaps you need to press a button or switch something on. That's why it's important you check the manual first.

Hint: the printed product manual you binned is probably available online if you look for it.

In some cases you will need to enter a four-digit password to confirm you are the authorised person to use it and that this pairing is what you intend to do. The system will take care of this automatically and you'll be provided this password at the right time so you don't need to write it down. This is a one-off step and once the pairing is done iOS will remember it.

Selecting your gadget on the Bluetooth list

This discoverability thing I just described is also applicable for your iOS device. The easy part is that turning on Bluetooth on your iPhone automatically makes it discoverable. There's a reason to keep the Bluetooth mode disabled if you don't need it: preserve battery. In iOS there's an indicator right at the top on the status bar immediately on the left of the battery icon to indicate this feature is enabled. Again, keep an eye for this and remind yourself to switch off the Bluetooth option to extend the battery time on your device. This wireless protocol is supposed to be designed for low power consumption, but the loss can be noticeable. Give it a try as your mileage might vary.

Enabling Bluetooth in iOS 6 is dead simple. Just tap on the Settings icon and you'll see the third option called Bluetooth. Once you enter this menu, the only option called Bluetooth has an ON/OFF slider. Switch it on and your iOS device start looking for available Bluetooth enabled devices in your vicinity.

Remember this wireless technology is meant to be used within a short range, which can be conditioned by objects in the environment. If you're using an external keyboard for your iPad this won't be an issue, but if you try a speaker playing music a different room you might need to move devices closer to obtain an optimum transmission.

The familiar icon with that B made out of triangles is the same glyph that indicates you are using this type of connectivity. This appears when you move the Bluetooth slider to the ON position. A semi-transparent Bluetooth icon on the status bar means you have switched it on while the opaque Bluetooth icon indicates the accessory has been recognised and is ready to be used.

As you get to use different Bluetooth devices he list will grow. Your iPhone will remember your selection and in most cases it will be a matter of switching on your wireless speaker and toggling the Bluetooth option in the Settings option on the iOS device as I just described. If you're sharing these with other people you might been to restart and select the device manually from the list, but this doesn't involve much effort.

Compared with previous versions, iOS 6 places the Bluetooth options right into the main Settings menu, making it more accessible and easier to spot for new users. There are many types of Bluetooth versions but you shouldn't care about it. Using your new headset, speakers or wireless keyboard should be very easy from now on.

The Bluetooth macro image used is from baldbrad