iOS 4.1 features: AVRCP stereo Bluetooth controls

iOS 3.0 introduced A2DP (advanced audio distribution profile) stereo bluetooth playback to iPhone but for some reason Apple never added the accompanying AVRCP (audio/video remote control profile) to go with it... until the new iOS 4.1 beta.

Basically, in iOS 3 and iOS 4, you could play and pause music and other audio but you couldn't control things like volume. The buttons on the Bluetooth device simply didn't work. This was a show-stopper for many users who wanted and needed that kind of control -- for example, to use while driving.

Looks like they've got it now.

[MacRumors forums via 9to5Mac]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 4.1 features: AVRCP stereo Bluetooth controls


Let's just hope it works well so it passes Apple's standards and makes it past the beta and into the final release. Only then, will I be happy about this news.

OMG! I can't believe it. This has been one of my biggest issues. The so called best mp3 player on the market doesn't have simple features that a $25 does. This will be very well received feature.

This is all fine and dandy but you'd think Apple would fix the major problems with the phone/OS before introducing another feature. It's like installing a second toilet but your plumbing is still leaking. Fix the leak first!

Aside from the volume control, I've also noticed that when in my car, my ringtone now comes over the car speakers, whereas it used to be a generic tone provided by the BT device.

Multitasking and this were my biggest disappointments with the iPhone. All I can say is Thank GOD! Now I have everything I can want in a phone.

so does this mean I can use my steering wheel controls in my ford escape with sync over Bluetooth?

@bakerjam, the ringtone playing through your cars stereo is due to another protocol called A2DP (noted in the article itself.) When I first heard my ringtone in my car, I thought for sure Apple also added AVRCP and pressed the SKIP button after the phone call to investigate. Of course, I was disappointed when it once again ignored my request. It is things like this that make no sense for Apple to ignore. Silly and ignorant for it to not support it since day one.

Anything about notification reminders? I can't believe people have been living without that feature. Since there's no light, the best way to implement this is to make it vibrate and/or beep.

Pardon my A2DP ignorance, but does this mean TomTom and similar services might be able to speak through my bluetooth headset now?

LOL... this feature has been present in the jailbroken app "Music Controls" for several months already. Nice that Apple has finally caught up to the jailbreak world.

A2DP in iOS4 actually broke the connection in some Pioneer car stereo models (I think mine is the DEH-7000BP or something like that). Pioneer claims that Apple needs to issue an update. I'm hoping 4.1 will fix that, but not being a dev, I won't know until release. :-(

Rene, you might want to do a little research before you post. I've had those exact headphones in your photo for almost a year now, and have always been able to pause, answer calls, and change the volume from the headset - in fact that was the ONLY way to change the volume until iOS 4 allowed it on the iPhone itself.
However, what has never worked are the skip forward/backward buttons on the headset. I hope you intended to say that now those controls have been supported as well, because that would indeed be great news!

Why does Apple like to throttle their customers? There's no reason this functionality couldn't have been rolled into 3 or 4. This kind of behavior is beginning to make me wonder about Apple.

Has anyone ever tried the Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 stereo BT headphones? Up until now, you could not control volume at all because there are no volume controls on the headphones. With 4.1 you should now be able to control volume from the iPhone.
They are the best looking BT alternative, IMO.

FYI, you've always been able to control volume through stereo Bluetooth headsets. What hasn't worked has been track next/prev - Apple's support page says:
"iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPad, and iPod touch (2nd generation) support pause, play, and stop for AVRCP."
The jailbreak app "Music Controls" added track skip prev/next several months back.

You could not control volume with headsets that didn't have volume controls. The HBH-IS800 has such small form factor there are no volume controls on it. And you could not control volume because Apple didn't have full BT profile.

The volume control on my moto s9-hd headphones worked even with 3.xx, the only thing that still doesnt work with 4.0 is skip/previous buttons. Also the upgrade to 4.0 gave me some trouble with usb connection to my pioneer deh-p6100bt,it doesnt always recognize the usb device. The bluetooth connection works perfect thou both for music and for phonecalls.

was this functionality added in the recent update release? I tested it on my Sony DR-BT100CX. I still cant jog the music forward or backwards.

There was already support for AVRCP controls in the first two beta for iOS3.0 . Somehow it was removed in the beta 3 and never put back. I hope they keep it until shipping iOS 4.1.

I've been waiting for skip tracks bt control forever!
I have a Jabra Cruiser and the only thing that's not working on mine still (besides prev/next) is caller id voice announcement - they claim this is apple's fault due to apple having a 'bad' pbap implementation.
Anybody here can confirm this or is it Jabra's fault? I'm leaning towards Jabra's fault but who knows?!?

Updated to ios 4.0.1 and there are no skip track or repeat the previous track. Crapple at their best again!

No I'm not sure why this page is suggesting Avrcp will be fixed on 4.1? Apple never said they will. It's a shame even the new iPhone 4 don't even have the feature. I'm bit concerned that it may take apple a lot of time to get this working. So annoying you can get this on cheap £30 phones and mp3 players. Perhaps apple should not mention Bluetooth 2.0 or 2.1 edr which is an insult to the technology. This is one of my reason I didn't upgrade my 3GS. Let's hope they take notice of this.

Wow that's awesome Apple AVRCP!!!!! Can't wait. Now just fix the basic bluetooth functionality that you've wacked up with the Iphone 4 and IOS 4. Apple's adding the nice to haves and forgot that functioning dial tone and bluetooth capabilities are a basic minimum. Apple's market cap isn't the only thing thats getting more like Microsoft. Their QA processes have now be migrated to the user.

You're all wrong when u guys says I've been able to turn down/up the volume with my headset since 3.0
You're not adjusting the iPod volume....just the volume on your headset itself.
I have a blueant and I can switch tracks from the headset but it's an annoying process as it has to use voice commands to do so.
I click the blueant Q1 button and say Voice Commands, it then takes 6-8 seconds for the voice command bell to sound then I say next track or last track....somewhat useful but I'm really looking forward to a simplier way of doing this.
Does everyone expect 4.1 to be released on September 1st???