There are three broad categories of Bluetooth® computer software. The first, and most popular, is software that allows a computer to interact with another computer or device that also has a Bluetooth® connection. The second type is data transfer software that can manage the exchange of information between two devices. The final type of Bluetooth® computer software can be used to send and receive messages to and from devices that have their Bluetooth® connection enabled. Although Bluetooth® is an effective and simple form of wireless networking, it uses a very low amount of power and bandwidth so the effective range of most devices is only about 32 feet (about 10 meters), limiting the development of more industrial, long range software applications.
The most used type of Bluetooth® computer software is designed to provide an interface between the computer and another Bluetooth® device. This can be anything from a printer to a cellular phone. The main purpose is to provide a virtual connection that acts as if the computer is plugged into the device with a cable. This has enabled keyboards, mice, printers and even network routers to sit independently from the computer or laptop and still function as if it were networked. The on-demand nature of a Bluetooth® connection also means no Internet or other bandwidth is used to maintain a connection that is not being used.
Another type of Bluetooth® computer software is used to manage the transfer of files between two systems. This software can schedule downloads or even provide access to a remote hard drive if configured correctly. This can make it easy to back up and moving data between systems, but presents a security problem. The Bluetooth® security key often used to establish a connection is limited in the way that it is generated, so it can be easier to hack than other standard network security protocols.
A third type of Bluetooth® computer software turns the computer into a message relay station. This means the computer is open to receive messages from passing Bluetooth® devices and also can be configured to send messages to devices that are discovered nearby. Aside from being able to act as an actual relay to extend the range of a device, it also can be used as an advertising medium. As a Bluetooth®-enabled device passes the computer, which could be set up inconspicuously in a display window, the computer software can transmit a message to the device with information about the products for sale or the store itself.