This is one feature I'd like to have, and one that was always touted as the big Bluetooth thing: "when devices come in range they start automatic actions..." I'm sure I read this somewhere, but so far software developers failed to deliver this promisse.
I was on the original team at Philips that developed the Bluetooth user interface for the iPAQs and this issue came up frequently from the Compaq head honchoes. The problem is that in order for this kind of autosync to occur, the iPAQ has to be turned on (otherwise no software, even the stack and driver, is running). Well, if the iPAQ is always on, the battery dies very quickly.
Even if you could arrange to turn back on only when a Bluetooth ping occurred (like if your desktop could somehow periodically ask if your PDA is around), that means you would turn the PDA back on for ANYBODY's desktop who's looking for their PDA partner, if only long enough to discover it wasn't YOUR desktop and then go back to sleep.
That would mean that as your walking down the hallway of your building with your turned-off iPAQ in your briefcase, as you pass by every single desktop it would wake up your iPAQ, asking "are you my sync partner". By the time you got where you were going, you'd have a dead battery and you never even took it out of the briefcase. Likewise if you made the iPAQ the one doing the pinging - it would have to turn on and ping all the time, since it can't know ahead of time if it's "near" your desktop machine, and most of the time it's not.
Once the battery lifetime issue becomes less critical, auto-sync won't be a problem.
You could write your own code to do something like this if you didn't mind the battery hit. We developed and sell an SDK called "BTAccess" (www.high-point.com) for C++ programmers to get at all the Bluetooth functions on all models of iPAQ and Dell, or with any model of CF card from Philips or Belkin. Basically any PocketPC platform that uses the Widcomm stacks (v1.2 or v1.3). You could use BTAccess to find and sync with your own desktop and ignore the others, or make the desktop find you, and even program the iPAQ to wake up from a turned-off state every so often to do it. No technical obstacles. It's all about battery life.
Why not just take the simple approach and IF the PDA is turned on AND Bluetooth is active initiate the automated activity? That way it is incumbent upon the device owner to initialize the device and should not impact battery life.
This is already possible with a Toshiba E740 with integrated bluetooth or with the Toshiba Bluetooth SD card. The latest Toshiba Bluetooth stack release (version 3.00) has automatic active syncing.
All that is needed is for the machine to be turned on and within range of the computer running activesync. It might also work on other pocket PCs but I'm not sure since I never tried installing the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack in another Pocket PC.
It is very nice but battery autonomy forces me to turn the bluetooth radio off while I'm not needing it...
Yes, my T68i auto syncs with my PC when it is in range via Bluetooth, I would like my Ipaq to do the same when I come home. I usually switch my Ipaq on a couple of times during the evening so it should sync with my PC then.
Earlier the suggestion was made:
"IF the PDA is turned on AND Bluetooth is active initiate the automated activity..."
But "Bluetooth is active" is a little misleading - you can have the radio turned ON, but not actually be using it. It's only actually used, and using up battery power, if a) somebody else is trying to discover devices (in which case you'll respond automatically), or b) you're actively doing a BT operation.
So even though the iPAQ is on and the radio is on, if you also want to hunt for your particular PC every so often, that operation will do some amount of battery drain. The total impact of this depends on how often you do a discovery and how long it lasts. I would bet the Toshiba auto-sync feature is configurable as to the period and duration of a discovery, so at least the user can control how much damage is done.
Meanwhile we've been working on just such a periodic BTSync program using our BTAccess SDK, so I'll post here when it's available. Frankly, my battery life is so poor I'm always sticking it in the cradle anyway so I get auto-synced that way!
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