iPhone 3.0 adds custom protocol support for addons


In middle of all the adding features that should have been available day-one, Apple announced something really interesting for the hardware hacking community. The new iPhone 3.0 OS will support application communication over bluetooth or through the dock connector using standard or custom protocols. From Engadget’s coverage:

10:19AM “They talk over the dock, and wirelessly over Bluetooth. Things like playing and pausing music, getting artwork — or you can build your own custom protocols.”
10:19AM “Now here’s a class that we think will be really interesting — medical devices.” Scott’s showing off a blood pressure reader that interfaces with the iPhone — wild.
10:18AM “Here’s an example — an FM transmitter. With 3.0, the dev can build a custom app that pairs up with it, and automatically finds the right station and tunes it in.”
10:18AM “With 3.0, we’re going to enable accessory developers to build custom apps that talk directly to that hardware.”

No solid connection specification has been published yet. We’re excited about the prospect of developing our own accessory hardware, but we wonder what sort of hoops you’ll have to jump through. Apple doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to approvals. Just this week they denied MSA Remote client App Store entry; it’s a multitouch client that uses the standard TUIO protocol. Prepare for similar roadblocks in the future.

[via adafruit]


  1. fyrebug says:

    well, using the hacked sdk you can already use the dock connector for TX RX, but it’s nice to see it in the official app. also nice to see bluetooth in their being used for communication….

  2. Ivan_k says:

    Like [fyrebug] said, nice to se it in the official app… I bought the first gen iTouch just because of the convenient SDK and the great hardware. I quickly realized Apples ill reign would hiner me in doing soft~ for this hard~. It’s like I paid to lend it, and now I can lease apps through som DRMish nonsense. However this kind of obedience is counterindicated by the manual on my brain.

    So: Jailbreak (or someting to that effect. Google it).
    And then: You can buspower an Arduino mini on a third-party dock-con. and instantly get lots of analog and digital GPIOs. Some pins even do serial TX and RX.

    If it’s just for the blood pressure and hartrate, the Arduino is HW enough, you don’t need no strongARM for that.

  3. collinstheclown says:

    If my doctor pulls out an iphone, im running

  4. Ivan_k says:

    Perhaps he’ll run along with you, just to demonstrate the all-new iPhone-pedometer :D

  5. kikkoman says:

    why do i constantly get the feeling that NOBODY knows anymore whata TRANSMITTER is?

  6. Tim says:

    kikkoman: Erm, I assume he *was* talking about an FM transmitter. You know, the kind you get so you can listen to MP3s in your car (which never have line-ins for some evil reason).

    The iPhone/iPod Touch hardware and software is really nice. I would buy one if apple weren’t such control freaks.

    Also note that iPod Touch users will have to pay a fee to upgrade their software (if that is even an option). Last time it was £10 or £15 I think.

  7. Tim says:

    Ahem, should have RTFA. Apparently it’s $10. Small, but still cheeky.

  8. digidev says:

    megaLOL at the guy’s face in the pic!

  9. DarkFader says:

    They need to add a lot more to the SDK when they plan to make it jailbreak-safe :)
    I wonder if they can’t make a cheaper subscription when you don’t need all features. Or a more expensive one with 3.0-exclusive features xD.

  10. SteveDiRaddo says:

    im really excited about the cut/copy/paste, stereo bluetooth and mms messaging being added to 3.0 =D

  11. arthur says:

    is apple going to ‘enable’ everyone who want’s to develop an accessory, or just the developers paying for license?

  12. weeee says:

    This could be useful for add on…er….pleasure devices..

  13. cmholm says:

    I’ve been using my Touch 1G as a pda, once I realized 1) that the contact/calendar tools were as nice what I was using on my Palm, 2) the Touch was ***way*** more rugged than the palms/handsprings i’ve owned.

    the missing piece was a portable keyboard like the stowaway. i haven’t yet seen whether that capability is possible with the new sdk, but I can dream.

  14. idogis1 says:

    finally, a god damn keyboard.

  15. therian says:

    did apple finally realize that they pissing off half of their customers?

  16. cyberpunk says:

    is it just me, or when a 3rd party app comes out, a few weeks/months later, ipod comes out with an app “similar” to the 3rd party app? dont get me wrong. ipods are cool.

  17. sanchez says:

    I would love to have an rj-45 dongle for network wire testing. Things like wire mapping, NIC tests, cisco cdp client to trace ports, etc. I’d buy that in a sec

  18. bluesteelbass says:

    wow… let’s add features that should have already been there. good job apple! maybe in v3 of your software, you’ll enable people to send picture messages like every other phone out there? ever since apple switched from motorola cpu’s to intel, it’s been a steady downhill slide for apple in my opinion.

  19. Taylor Alexander says:


    Umm… this IS v3 of their software and They *did* enable picture messaging

    not that i don’t agree it should have already been there, but come on, pay attention

  20. cptfalcon says:

    heres hoping for bluetooth keyboards… it would actually make a decent portable computing device, you can get a full 80 width terminal on a 480 pixel screen. 5 pixels wide for m/w, but ‘@’ would be just a blob.

  21. therian says:

    so the most demanding add on is keyboard ? so ironical, I knew it before iphone release

  22. steve says:

    i hope this means the reason they won’t release an iPhone 2.x update is because they’re putting all their effort into a 3.0 that fixes all the current problems. it’s been a while.

  23. Jess says:

    Glucose meter ftw! =d now how to make one fit in a dock connector…. im gonna need a bigger shoe horn….

  24. Jonathan Wilson says:

    Further to the RJ45 dock connector idea, how about a dock connector for a Cisco Console Cable so you can use your iPhone to talk to Cisco kit.

  25. modo says:

    anyone want to try iphone 3.0 just let me know iammodo(at)gmail.com

  26. Cliff Harris says:

    I tried to sign up for the development kit. They insisted that I supply a copy of my business license, which of course I don’t have. Sucks.

    As an electronic engineer I’m just curious to see what signals are available on the dock connector. If I knew that I might be inspired to come up with something to talk to.

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