Transfer data between iOS and Android via Bluetooth?

The question:

I’ve been reading up on how to transfer data between iOS devices over Bluetooth using GameKit. I’m not writing a game, per se, but do have a need to transfer a small amount of binary data between two devices. Between two iOS devices, this is easy enough. However, I was wondering if it is possible to transfer data between an iOS device and an Android device via the same mechanism.

Has anyone come across documentation/tutorial that would explain how to do this? Is it even technically possible? Or has Apple put in some sort of restriction that would prevent this?

The other option I discovered was Bonjour over Bluetooth. Would this be a more suitable option for this type of operation?

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

This question has been asked many times on this site and the definitive answer is: NO, you can’t connect an Android phone to an iPhone over Bluetooth, and YES Apple has restrictions that prevent this.

Some possible alternatives:

  1. Bonjour over WiFi, as you mentioned. However, I couldn’t find a comprehensive tutorial for it.
  2. Some internet based sync service, like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3. These usually have libraries for several platforms.
  3. Direct TCP/IP communication over sockets. (How to write a small (socket) server in iOS)
  4. Bluetooth Low Energy will be possible once the issues on the Android side are solved (Communicating between iOS and Android with Bluetooth LE)

Coolest alternative: use the Bump API. It has iOS and Android support and really easy to integrate. For small payloads this can be the most convenient solution.

Details on why you can’t connect an arbitrary device to the iPhone. iOS allows only some bluetooth profiles to be used without the Made For iPhone (MFi) certification (HPF, A2DP, MAP…). The Serial Port Profile that you would require to implement the communication is bound to MFi membership. Membership to this program provides you to the MFi authentication module that has to be added to your hardware and takes care of authenticating the device towards the iPhone. Android phones don’t have this module, so even though the physical connection may be possible to build up, the authentication step will fail. iPhone to iPhone communication is possible as both ends are able to authenticate themselves.

Method 2

Maybe a bit delayed, but technologies have evolved since so there is certainly new info around which draws fresh light on the matter…

As iOS has yet to open up an API for WiFi Direct and Multipeer Connectivity is iOS only, I believe the best way to approach this is to use BLE, which is supported by both platforms (some better than others).

On iOS a device can act both as a BLE Central and BLE Peripheral at the same time, on Android the situation is more complex as not all devices support the BLE Peripheral state. Also the Android BLE stack is very unstable (to date).

If your use case is feature driven, I would suggest to look at Frameworks and Libraries that can achieve cross platform communication for you, without you needing to build it up from scratch.

For example: or google nearby

Disclaimer: I work for Uepaa, developing for Android and iOS.

Method 3

You could use p2pkit, or the free solution it was based on: Doesn’t work very well, and its a fixer-upper for sure, but its, well, free. Works for small amounts of data transfer right now.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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