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iphone, ipod - bluetooth keyboard - Nokia e51 - system admin

I was using a Nokia 9300i for the past 3 years, mainly for its qwerty keyboard, for emergencies where I'm out of office, and without a laptop with Internet access. The 9300i has worked well, but the hardware was failing, screen blanking out occasionally etc. I do not want phones with cameras, so the successors to the 9300i was out. All came with cameras. The non camera phones either do not have qwerty keyboards or they have small screens. Its pretty hard to find a good device without camera.

I also got a Nokia e51, and looked for a bluetooth keyboard. There were a few, but reviews were mainly poor, mostly due to durability issues. I settled on the apple bluetooth keyboard. The e51 I got came with an application installed, called "wl. keybd.", "Menu->Office->Wl. keybd." which does detect the apple keyboard. PuTTY is available for the e51, so with PuTTY and with the bluetooth keyboard, I had a replacement for the Nokia 9300i, for an emergency ssh device. The left command key on the keyboard works as the left blue key on the nokia, and the right command key works as the right blue key on the nokia. i.e. using the command keys on the apple keyboard allows selection of "Menu, Notes, Options, Exit" etc. It is also possible to unlock the keypad using the left command key, and shift-8. Pressing the left command key followed by the right option key works to unlock the keypad as well. I have not found a way to lock the phone keypad again though. Cursor keys work as well, and esc can be used to exit menus.

I tried for a while to use the Nokia 7700. Its a Internet tablet without camera. It has a "large" screen, and has wifi. It was difficult to pair with a bluetooth keyboard but I did eventually got it to work with the apple wireless keyboard, except that the "enter" key does not send the correct keys in a shell session, and I didn't have time to look further.

Later on, when I read about the ipod touch 3rd gen, I thought it would be the ideal device for ssh sessions. It has a "large" screen, it has bluetooth, its from apple; it must support the apple wireless keyboard right?? I bought a ipod 64GB right away, and I was very wrong. Unfortunately, apple does not provide a bluetooth stack for iphone/ ipod for use with a keyboard! Searching on the Internet showed a guy Ralf Ackermann, who managed to get the apple keyboard to work with a iphone. I wasn't up to duplicating his work though.

I made do with the touch screen keyboard for a few months. Got a pleasant surprise recently when I checked for a keyboard for iphone again; There's a app available to allow bluetooth keyboards to collect to the iphone/ ipod. It is in the Cydia store, "BTstack Keyboard", by Matthias Ringwald, for USD 5. Bought it right away. Now the ipod works as I thought it should, with the apple wireless keyboard. Cursor keys does work in notes, but not in mobile terminal or iSSH.

Mar 2010

Update: In Apr 2010, Apple showed its OS 4 for the iPhone. It will be available for iPhone and iPod touch between June to August 2010, and appears to allow bluetooth keyboards to work with the iPhone and iPod touch.

Additional Updates (30th June 2010): iOS 4 has been available for about a week. Bluetooth pairing with keyboard is available under "Settings" -> General -> Bluetooth

I tested with a Apple wireless keyboard, aluminium (model number:A1255). Pairing goes well. The cursor keys works in "Notes". Volume, Play/ Pause and brightness keys work as well. Unfortunately, no navigation available via the keyboard (old model with 3 batteries), eg. Home button, selecting apps to open are not available via keyboard. Caps Lock and caps lock light does work. Eject button pops up on screen keyboard. Shift allows selection of text, in "Notes", as well as copy and paste via Command-C, Command-V. Command-X does cut as well.

Cursor keys not working in iSSH as of 30th Jun 2010. iSSH does have a method to input cursors during the touchscreen but its far inferior to an actual physical keyboard.

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