May 2, 2012
Another guerrilla app with a functionality that is supposedly forbidden by Apple has slipped through the cracks and made its way to the App Store. A couple of weeks ago, Bluetooth OnOff was released. It's an app that would have easily gone unnoticed if not for its ability to easily turn the Bluetooth function on or off on an iOS device. Apparently, it entailed the use of private APIs to directly command Bluetooth toggling. This level of control turned out to be something that is prohibited by Apple in its app development guidelines, and so the app was pulled from the App Store soon enough. Those who managed to download it in the short time it was available in the App Store could still opt to use it. The majority of users who didn't, though, were left with no choice but to go through the usual steps, all five of them, of activating and deactivating Bluetooth. That is, until now. An app similar to the now defunct Bluetooth OnOff has somehow escaped the scrutiny of Apple's review team. Released today in the App Store, Bluetooth Manager lets you toggle the Bluetooth function simply by launching the app and tapping a dedicated on/off switch. In addition, it purports to let you schedule Bluetooth on/off actions at different times and toggle the Bluetooth function with push messages. Curious about its functionality, I have taken the liberty of testing the app for the benefit of those who want to make sure of its validity first before downloading it. I can vouch for the app's ability to change the Bluetooth state by just tapping a single switch, but I'm afraid I can't do the same with the app's auxiliary functions. I have tried to schedule Bluetooth toggles at certain times, but none has come through yet. Even its supposed push messaging capability is nowhere in sight. Further, it strikes me as odd that an Internet connection is required to schedule Bluetooth toggles, as proved by the error message, shown below, that appears when a device on hand happens to be offline. How Bluetooth Manager came to be approved shortly after the axing of Bluetooth OnOff is yet another sign of Apple's increasingly lax approval arrangements. But as conventional App Store principles dictate, it's only a matter of time before Bluetooth Manager itself faces the ax. So, if you're on the lookout for an easy way to turn Bluetooth on or off on your non-jailbroken iPhone or iPad, better grab Bluetooth Manager now in the App Store for $0.99 before it catches the attention of Apple's iOS law enforcers. But, as I've pointed out, don't count on its other features to work as expected. Will you be downloading Bluetooth Manager for its operative core function? Or is its inability to deliver on its promised supplementary functions enough to make it not only a guerrilla app but also a scam app? UPDATE: I stand corrected. The app's timed profiles and push messages do work, just not in the way I expected them to. It turns out that the app's server time is set to UTC+2. My local time is set to UTC+8, so it's only now, six hours later, that the test Bluetooth toggles I scheduled came through. It's in no way a scam app, after all. But a word about the time difference would've been helpful.