Frequently Asked Questions > Airconsole 2.0 - Bluetooth Support

 What is new in Airconsole 2.0

Airconsole 2.0 updates the USB cable hardware and firmware supplied on Airconsole adaptors to enable support for Serial over Bluetooth (Low Energy and 2.1) connectivity via iOS, Mac, PC and Android. This means Airconsole is even easier to get setup and working on smartphones, tablets, PC and Mac.

 How Does Bluetooth Low Energy Work on Airconsole?

Airconsole uses a new USB-Serial-Bluetooth combination cable and runs additional software to support Serial connections over both Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth 2.1. The new cable features the Bluetooth radio connected to the female USB port integrated into the cable. The new software running on Airconsole CPU handles all the bluetooth serial connectivity.

 Does Airconsole 2.0 still work on WIFI?

Yes, Airconsole still supports connections over 802.11b/g/n WIFI for both Serial ports and bridging to Wired Ethernet port. No existing Airconsole 1.x features have been removed. Airconsole now works with Bluetooth in addition to WIFI.

 Why is Serial over Bluetooth a "Good Thing"?

Bluetooth is built into most modern tablets, smartphones and also in Mac and PC. Later models include Bluetooth Low Energy (Sometimes called Bluetooth 4,  Bluetooth Smart, BLE or BTLE).
For iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads, Apple has never allowed developers access to the Serial Port Profile (SPP) that is built into Bluetooth 2.1. This has meant that up until now, it was not possible to use a Serial over Bluetooth adaptor on an Apple iOS device. With Airconsole you can now use Bluetooth Low Energy to create serial connections from your IOS device. The main advantages of this are:
     - Instant discovery and connection- no joining a particular WIFI network and password is required. Enable bluetooth and with our Get Console iOS app it will work automatically
     - As the iPad/iPhone WIFI radio doesn’t have to be joined to Airconsole WIFI, it is free to stay connected to Corporate or Internet WIFI. 

 Can I use the USB-hub-Serial cable directly plugged into on my Mac or PC?

Yes - when you connect the USB-Hub-Serial cable to a USB port on your Mac or PC it will detect it as a USB-Serial cable and it can be used as a direct serial cable just as the previous USB-Serial cable could be. The drivers for direct connection are on our resources section.

 Can I connect to Airconsole via Bluetooth from my Mac or PC?

Yes - The same drivers for direct USB connection also support Bluetooth operation. We publish drivers for connecting Mac to Airconsole via Bluetooth low energy. For PC (Win 7, 8) connecting to Airconsole is via Bluetooth 2.1.

Bluetooth support is only available in the latest OSX (AirconsoleOSX) and Windows (AirconsoleWIN) driver packages. These are available in the resources section of the Airconsole page.

 What are the limitations of Serial over Bluetooth Low Energy?

Bluetooth Low Energy is not designed for continuous high speed data transfer. the underlying transmission rate between the Bluetooth cable and the sending device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC etc) varies depending on radio interference and specific operating system limitations (in iOS). On iOS devices, generally the underlying rate is around 16-17kbps (from Airconsole to iOS device). On Mac the underlying rate can be higher. For iOS, Airconsole and our Get Console iOS application mask the low throughput via a proprietary combination of buffering and compression, which allows for Serial baud rates upto 57.6kbps.
For sustained serial transmission rates of 57.6kbps for periods of greater than 1 minute, Airconsole’s Bluetooth software may drop packets. This is especially a limitation for any sustained transfers from iOS device TO the Airconsole but less so in the other direction (Airconsole->iOS device). Get Console will report packet loss by ringing bell in terminal. For sustained data transfer at 57.6kbps and above baud rate we recommend switching to use the Serial-over-WIFI mode also built into Airconsole / Get Console app. 
Think of Serial over Bluetooth Low Energy as suitable for terminal work where only rarely is sustained data transfer required. Serial over Bluetooth 2.1 (Windows/Android) does not have any throughput limitation.

 Does Bluetooth Serial work with my Android Phone?

Yes - however on Android Airconsole will use Bluetooth 2.1 EDR rather than Bluetooth Low Energy. This is because Android support for Bluetooth Low Energy is unstable, even in the Android 4.4 and later. Also Bluetooth 2.1 offers native Serial Port Profile support which allows for higher serial baud rates without any packet loss. While Airconsole should work with Bluetooth on most Android terminal apps that support Bluetooth Serial Adaptors (i.e. Blueterm), we support full operation only with our own free terminal app “SerialBot” available in the Google Play store.

 Can I Upgrade my existing Airconsole to Airconsole 2.0?

Yes. Existing Airconsole devices can be upgraded to 2.0 by downloading and installing the Airconsole 2.5 firmware (free) and purchasing the USB-Bluetooth-Serial cable from our webshop
Note if your existing Airconsole firmware must be at version 1.04 or later to upgrade directly to version 2.5 firmware. If your Airconsole has version 1.02 or 1.03 firmware, please contact for an interim upgrade package that must be run prior to installing the version 2.5 firmware. 

 Is there a SDK to develop my own BTLE Serial Apps?

Yes. We have updated our iOS SDK to allow for other developers to make apps with Bluetooth Low Energy serial connections via Airconsole. Full details and sample code are available in the SDK.

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