Red-M opens Bluetooth to Palm developers

The drive to bring Bluetooth-based wireless link capabilities to Palm OS-based handhelds has moved forward with the release of...

The drive to bring Bluetooth-based wireless link capabilities to Palm OS-based handhelds has moved forward with the release of two Bluetooth software development kits for the Palm OS.

The kits, from Red-M Communications, are designed to help developers quickly and easily write and test applications for the popular handheld computer operating system.

Bluetooth is designed primarily for low-speed wireless communication among devices in a small area such as a workspace or a car's interior, or among devices a user might carry around.

The combination of Bluetooth and Palm devices could allow many users to more easily use their handhelds with other devices, performing functions such as printing files or wirelessly synchronising with a PC.

"One of the key client devices that will be Bluetooth-enabled will be [personal digital assistants]. There are a tremendous number of developers developing products for handhelds," said Steve Gallagher, director of business development at Red-M.

But users anxious to use Bluetooth on some Palm OS devices will have to wait a little longer than they might have hoped. A company official confirmed last week that Palm's delivery of a Bluetooth Secure Digital expansion module for use in its newer handhelds would be delayed until early next year. The module had originally been scheduled to become available before the end of this year.

Third-party vendors, including Red-M and TDK, are already shipping Bluetooth accessories for Palm V and Vx handhelds using a "sled" design that snaps on to the bottom of the handheld. Red-M and other vendors also offer Bluetooth modules for the expansion slots of Handspring Palm OS Visors.

The Red-M Blade Dev-kit, being shipped from this week, is equipped with Red-M's Palm OS emulator cable that lets developers write software on a PC using Palm OS emulation software while connected to a Bluetooth-compliant device - such as a Palm with a Red-M Blade sled add-on - for software-testing purposes. A network version of the development kit that includes the Red-M 1050AP LAN Access Point is also available. The access point lets developers easily create a Bluetooth wireless Lan environment on which to test applications.

A key use of Bluetooth for Palm users is for wireless access to the Internet or corporate intranet through a Lan or via a data-enabled mobile phone, Red-M's Gallagher said. The 115kbps general packet radio service technology, which some carriers have begun offering this year, will be a significant driver for mobile wireless access on Palm devices, he added.

Other drivers of Bluetooth for use on Palm devices may include wireless access to e-mail over the Internet or a Lan, as well as multi-player games over both Bluetooth and a combination of Bluetooth and an Internet link.

Each development kit is priced at $199 (£140) and can be ordered from Red-M's Web site.

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