Yosemite’s Handoff feature may not work for all Mac users

Credit: Apfeleimer

Credit: Apfeleimer

Handoff was one of the most exciting iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite features announced at WWDC, giving you the ability to begin a task (say, an email) on one platform and seamlessly transfer it to another.

It’s a great illustration of Apple’s ecosystem at work — but will it work on your Mac?

Drawing attention to the fact that Handoff is expected to rely on the Bluetooth low energy (LE) protocol in order to work, German publication Apfeleimer has put together a handy chart showing which Apple devices are likely to be able to use Handoff.

According to them, Handoff is going to be limited to more recent Mac computers only, and will also be incompatible with the iPad 2, since this is the only iOS 8-compatible device not to support Bluetooth LE.

If you want to use Handoff, Apfeleimer suggests that you’re going to want to use a mid-2011 MacBook Air and above, the mid-2012 MacBook Pro and above (including all versions of the MacBook Pro with Retina display), the late-2012 iMac and above, the mid-2011 Mac mini and above, and the late-2013 Mac Pro.

Apple hasn’t yet publicly confirmed whether Handoff will be limited to only certain computers. But if this report is correct and Handoff does require the low energy Bluetooth standard, you may need to buy a new Mac before being able to “hand off” items from OS X to iOS.

  • Dorv

    The better question (rather than purchasing a new computer) is whether or not a BT4.0 dongle could be made to work.

    • SBacklin

      Exactly. I have a mid-2012 MBA. I also have a mid-2011 top of the line iMac. It would be totally ridiculous if there wasn’t some kind of doable workaround for that.

      • Paul Lloyd Johnson

        Not totally ridiculous at all. Your hardware is different to the current lineup.

        I hate when people complain about a new feature being added that they can’t get on their older hardware. You’re not entitled to anything for free. If you get it and it works its a bonus.

      • Moshe Shekhter

        Paul – i second that- and then you hear them bitching on Apple not innovating anymore – or that ios 7-8 is too complicated… haha

      • SBacklin

        Except you’re not hearing me bitch about not innovating or bitching about iOS either.

      • Moshe Shekhter

        ha- and please don’t take it personally- i was talking on all other people who flood the web with those comments…

      • SBacklin

        If you had actually paid attention to what I said, I wasn’t complaining and saying it was ridiculous if my current iMac wouldn’t work with it as it. What I was saying is that I feel it would be ridiculous if a dongle or a workaround wouldn’t work as bluetooth is a standard.

      • Moshe Shekhter

        and you really think that a dongle that is connected to an “old” USB port that connected to an “old” chipset on motherboard will give this features- i don’t think so… otherwise people will stay with macs from 10 years back… ( even worth when it comes to PC…)

      • Kr00

        I think people need to take these stories as speculation before anything is assumed. Until it is clear what hardware is supported, getting emotional about a speculative story helps no one.

  • gserraes ッ

    Well if this report ends being certain, my 13-inch early 2011 MBP is old and outdated. Let’s hope I can do with a USB dongle.

    • http://dribbble.com/lukezammit Luke Zammit

      Oh, boo-hoo! You’re 2011 MBP doesn’t get one feature of a 2014 update. Your computer is definitely outdated and completely useless without this feature that you’ve never used before. If you want the latest features you should have the latest hardware.

  • Adrayven

    Bluetooth 4.0 LE Dongle fixes it for older macs.. iPad 2, kinda SOL

    • Marcus Winchester

      Poor old iPad 2, stuck with old Bluetooth and lame 30 pin connector

  • Rob Flaherty

    DRACONIAN APPLE! My 5 y.o laptop won’t work???WTF!

    • natjsb

      Hello! Read carefully.

      • Rob Flaherty

        [Sarcasm Font Implied]

    • Kr00

      Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between sarcasm and actual rage, with all the trolls that frequent this place. Good job tho.

      • Rob Flaherty

        if I was a troll- I wouldn’t use my real name. What I like to say to all my apple-hater friends, show me YOUR 5yo laptops. I also have a fully working 2006 iMac. Maybe my wife will let me get a new machine if I show her little things like this!

      • Kr00

        I was being ironic. I got your sarcasm. Written from my 5yo MacBook Pro, running perfectly on Yosemite. Let your wife know. ;)

  • tony667

    look how they steal your article and photo, and they put a watermark on it :
    http://www.idevice.ro/2014/06/16/os-x-yosemite-handoff-iata-ce-mac-uri-sunt-compatibile/comment-page-1/

  • Nora_Kramer

    Well, all I know is, I was ready to jump ship to a Samsung Galaxy or Note, but was awaiting their announcement in June to see what was coming our way. The idea of “hand off” is what made me decide to wait and stick with iPhone. But, honestly, I am not upgrading my mid-2011 top of the line iMac, that is still my everyday workhorse and works perfectly great for running my business, just to get that particular feature. If this report holds true, the one feature that that was keeping me with the iPhone isn’t any longer, so looks like an Android jump it might end up being. I can’t imagine I am the only one who is considering this either. I am in a totally Mac environment (my iMac for work, a 2012 Macbook Air for home, iPad mini for play, and have had every iPhone since the first gen one), but I am not going to fork over money for a whole new desktop computer to get this one feature. Blah. :P

    • Kr00

      If you’re happy with how your setup works now, why would you even bother changing platforms and hardware, just because one feature May or may not be available on your Mac? Are you seriously telling us that’s what you’re considering?

    • Paul Lloyd Johnson

      So you want more integration between your computer and your phone, and you think a Mac +Android setup will work better than Mac +iPhone. PMSL, enjoy the cheap plastic.

  • Ian Gendel

    This person is very wrong….I have a 2011 top end 27″ iMac running the public beta of Yosemite and the option for handoff is present in the System Preferences. So I don’t think Bluetooth LE is needed. Plus directly from Apple’s website at least for phone calls it says “And if your iPhone rings while it’s charging in the bedroom, you can answer the call on your Mac in the living room — they just have to be on the same Wi‑Fi network.” Plus there is no footnote at the bottom of the page like there is for other things on the page about it not working with older macs. It just says “Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages. Additional charges may apply when using your device’s cellular network. *Check with your carrier for hotspot availability.”

    • SDR97

      Well, that may be true, Ian, but my 2009 iMac is on Bluetooth 2, and I haven’t been able to make handoff work at all with my iPhone 5. Granted, this is all early beta and I’m not up in arms about it — but the Bluetooth was my first suspect.

      • Paul Lloyd Johnson

        This feature does not work yet.

      • Seth R.

        It does work. I used Handoff from my iPhone 5 to my mid-2012 MacBook Pro just recently, although I haven’t been able to make it work the other way around just yet.

      • Paul Lloyd Johnson

        It hasn’t worked since the beta 2s came out for me.

  • Andrew

    Incompatible with the iPad 2? WHAT THE CRAP. I hate how Apple always does this kind of crap. They ALWAYS make something obsolete.

    • Paul Lloyd Johnson

      iPad 2 is soon to be 4 generations old. Get over it.

      • Andrew

        Hoe.

  • Richard Liu

    Wait a minute… WHO said that Handoff “must” rely on Bluetooth LE ? They didn’t say any sentence with “Bluetooth” in the whole keynote speech ! Beside, Craig had show a photo that you can leave you phone in you bag in the other room while talking on you Mac !

    The whole idea of Handoff can be achieved gracefully with Bonjour over WiFi. The iCloud binding is enough for identification. They may add Bluetooth ability for faster response, but it’s not a “must-have” component in the whole scenery.

    Someone may argue that Handoff would apply proximation sensing. However, proximation is NOT equal to Bluetooth LE. For the default settings, the Bluetooth LE could cover the range even longer than a consumer WiFi station, and that makes “proximation” meaningless. Bluetooth LE could be used for proximation sensing, but that needs lots of fine-tune works on antenna and transmission power. It’s not something can be done by none experienced uses.

    If proximation is required in an application, classic Bluetooth is far more accurate and much easier to setup.

  • dremwunn

    The iOS 8 Beta 2 known issues document, regarding Phone call relay, part of Hand Off:

    “Phone call relay uses Bluetooth when it should be using Wi-Fi. Since not all devices have the necessary Bluetooth support, this may fail on some hardware.”

  • Alan

    What about MacBook Pro retina version, can those use handoff too?

  • Solidus174

    does anyone know how to activate it or how does it actually turn on????? yes theres an on switch in general yosemite settings…..is there a toggle on iOS? i have iOS beta 2 on an iPhone 5s and beta 2 yosemite and can’t seem to get it to work. Ive tried having bluetooth turned on for both devices and nothing….my mac is a compatible model

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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