I went out and bought the Jabra Freespeak at my local CompUSA the other day to do some testing. For you my dear readers need this vital info.
First some info for those unfamiliar with it. The Jabra BT200 is a bluetooth headset ostensibly for use with bluetooth capable phones like my T68i. It is an over and behind the ear affair that, while somewhat large, is incredibly light and comfortable. The sound quality is very good, and when I have a good signal, it’s excellent. It’s mic does an admirable job of suppressing background noise. Once you have it paired to a phone, you simply hit the button on the back of it, your phone responds by offering to voice dial the individual of your choice. Very slick. For the amount of time I spend using my hands-free kit, I’m shocked that I didn’t explore this option earlier. It is moderately expensive at $99 retail, but can be had currently at buy.com for $75 which is a great deal.
So the bad news is: currently you cannot use this cool product as a mic and speaker for your bluetooth enabled Mac. While you can pair them up, nothing is passed into the sound system prefs for input or output. I sent a couple of e-mails to some fellows at Apple concerning this. One very cool fellow who could make this happen informed me that they are aware of the request, but cannot comment further. I take comfort knowing that Apple programmers are tossing and turning in their beds trying to think of ways to roll in feature requests from annoying tossers like me.
But now take a walk down feature request lane with me to a magical place in the not too distant future. Imagine if you will a Macintosh, paired with a bluetooth headset. The Mac can use the headset as one would expect, for voice and audio once paired. iChat already has a handy background process that allows you to be available without having iChat AV open. So you hit the button on your headset and a little window appears showing all buddies currently logged in and capable of audio chat. Something like this:
You click on dad there, and it launches iChat AV, mutes iTunes and tries to start an audio chat with dad. You can hit the button on the headset again to cancel and iTunes starts playing again. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Or say that you’re download pr0n… ahem I mean hard at work on your Mac and you get a chat request, video or audio. You grab your headset, and hit the button, which starts a chat with your friend. Wouldn’t that be spiffy?
While it may seem a pretty small thing, I currently don’t use iChat’s voice feature becuase of the annoying echos and speakerphone quality. I think a lot of other people feel the same way. A good headset that Apple can sell on the online and retail stores might be one of the last barriers to IP telephony for the masses. While that might not seem like a great big deal, think of it this way: Cell phones caused a revolution in telephony. A new market which forced changes to traditional phone networks and hardware. The inclusion of contacts actually in the phone (beyond a 10 number speed dial) was a huge change, though it’s one that we all take for granted these days. Also, cell phone calling plans, which started out crazy expensive, within a few years started beating residential phone costs, and have completely supplanted land lines in some countries.
It’s not outside of reason that IP telephony might have the same effect on how people communicate. As computers become more ubiquitous, there is a good possibility that IP might completely do away with the home phone. That’s why these solutions are so important. As computers begin to become the center point of home digital solutions, Apple wants to be that computer.
BTW: that’s not really my dad.
Listening to: “Rain Dogs” by Tom Waits