Yosemite 'Handoff' Feature Likely Limited to Macs with Bluetooth LE

Over the weekend, we posted a story that Apple's Handoff feature was limited to Macs that support the Bluetooth 4.0/LE specification. Handoff/Continuity allows OS X and iOS device users to seamlessly transition between the two operating systems. However, there was some debate about the accuracy of that claim at the time, though now it seems almost certain to be true.

Bluetooth 4.0 was was first introduced in the MacBook Air and Mac mini in Mid 2011. The feature has since made its way into later Mac releases, finally coming to every Mac as of the 2013 Mac Pro.

Apfeleimer put together this nice graph showing which Macs support Bluetooth 4.0/LE.

osx-yosemite-bluetooth-4.0-le-apfeleimer
The full bars represent Macs that can run OS X Yosemite, while only Mac models in the green bar timeframes support the required Bluetooth protocol for Handoff. For iOS users, the iPad 2 is the only device that is capable of running iOS 8 but doesn't come with hardware support for Bluetooth LE.

There was some uncertainty about this being an absolute requirement, though in the WWDC sessions, Apple clearly states that Handoff runs on Bluetooth LE technology. However, now with the release of Yosemite Developer Preview 2, Apple has added a new field for Continuity Support in the System Information. The new field falls under the Bluetooth category:

btleon

Owners of late generation Macs seem to be showing Continuity support in line with the chart above, while older Mac owners are seeing Continuity support set to "No". It's not yet clear if adding a 3rd party Bluetooth 4.0 dongle will enable support on older Macs.

OS X Yosemite is in developer beta right now and will be released to customers later this year. Handoff support in the early betas remain spotty, so even those with supported devices may not see the feature working. Apple, of course, could change requirements over time.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
83 months ago
Does handoff really need BT 4.0? Or is Apple just being Apple as usual?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
83 months ago

Does handoff really need BT 4.0? Or is Apple just being Apple as usual?


Yes, it's a real requirement. No, a shell script won't enable it.

They are being Apple. They started putting BT 4.0 in their products years ago, before the features required them so that now, when they're putting the features in, a good number of iOS and Macs have the hardware.

The technology behind handoff is the same as AirDrop in iOS and iBeacon. BT LE allows devices to advertise their physical presence without using much power. BT LE is the only technology currently available that offers this.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
83 months ago
Just made it :D

----------

Recent!?
3 years old in the technology world is ancient.

For phones, maybe. Computers are a bigger investment and many people use them for 5 years before replacing them.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
83 months ago
Well ****, my mid-2011 iMac... Only 3 years old, but not compatible with the latest software.. *hangs head*
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
83 months ago
So, for a huge amount of people Yosemite is going to be just a new look, great. They should have ended the WWDC presentation with "oh, and almost all of these new features won't work on most of the Macs out there".
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
83 months ago
Here's to hoping there's a shell command or tweak that will enable support on older machines.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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