Previously, we told you how you can use your iPad as a telephone. Using a Bluetooth headset with your iPad makes that idea even more practical. The Jawbone ERA is the one I happen to use, but others like the Jaybird Freedom we recently reviewed should work just as well. Here’s how to get set up, and a few apps to help.
To get started, you need to pair your headset with your iPad. In the Settings app, navigate to “General” and select “Bluetooth.” Make sure that Bluetooth is turned on, and at that point initiate your headset’s pairing mode. With the Jawbone ERA, you perform what is referred to as a “Double ShakeShake” to activate the pairing mode (a single “ShakeShake” is two quick successive shakes of the device), but you other headsets use different methods, like a long press of the power button. Once paired, you’re ready to use your headset with almost any audio app on the iPad. Here are four popular choices:
FaceTime. This was the first app I tried out and it worked perfectly on the first attempt. The Bluetooth headset is treaded similar to AirPlay devices, in the sources list. The only issue is that I noticed that I could not do was answer and hang up the call with the controls on the headset.
Skype. With Skype, the Bluetooth headset once connected will be enabled by default. Call quality was good on both ends in test calls. The added advantage of using Skype over FaceTime is that you have access to all of your Skype contacts, and you can place traditional ‘land line’ calls to any plain old telephone number if you have a paid account.
Google Voice (via Talkatone). With Talkatone, you can make calls using your Google Voice account and the Bluetooth headset worked like a charm.You can also use Google Voice to place calls to any traditional phone number. The difference here is that you can’t make video calls.
Unfortunately, you can’t answer calls with a Bluetooth headset using any of the apps above, even when they can receive calls running in background mode. Still, it definitely beats holding your iPad to your ear or always using speakerphone mode when talking to people through iPad voice and video chat apps.