This took me by surprise a little bit today when I discovered it, however after doing some digging it seems that it is an issue that has been around since the launch of Windows Phone 7. I was attempting to help a customer who was having trouble connecting a Samsung Ativ S to a Freedom Bluetooth keyboard when I discovered on some Windows forums that Windows Phone 8 does not support the HID (Human Interface Device) profile.
For those not in the know, Bluetooth is not simply just one technology – it is more a collection of profiles that devices must both support in order to communicate with each other in a desired manner. The collection of supported profiles on a device creates its Bluetooth ‘stack’. HID is the low latency profile used for keyboards, mice, game controllers and other peripherals that a person interacts with and expects an almost instantaneous response on the paired device. Windows Phone 8 does not currently have this profile in its stack.
The result is that although the Ativ S I was testing (along with a Nokia Lumia 920 to check it wasn’t just a Samsung issue) would recognise the Freedom keyboard and attempt to pair, it would not hold the connection for more than a couple of seconds. HID support has been present in Android and iOS for many iterations now and it seems like a massive oversight on Microsoft’s part to not have included it in WP8. Considering that all WP8 devices include Office and OneNote, being tied to the onscreen soft keyboard is a big let down for anyone wanting to get some serious heavy typing done.
Currently there is no word on an update from Microsoft to include HID support in the WP8 Bluetooth stack and considering this has apparently been an issue since WP7, a resolution does not look likely any time soon. 3rd party applications also seem unlikely as I doubt Microsoft allow app developers the opportunity to tinker with OS code at that level, rather provide access to functionality through an API – any Microsoft app developers out there, clarification would be appreciated!
A list of the supported Bluetooth profiles in Windows Phone 8 can be found at the Microsoft support page HERE