Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bluetooth Phone Tools for Mac OS X

In Mac OS X Tiger, Apple's Address Book had the ability to connect with a Bluetooth phone to provide two rather nice features:

  1. It could display caller ID information for incoming calls and bring up the corresponding Address Book entry if any.
  2. It could dial out by right clicking on a phone number entry and selecting "dial using name-of-device" from the contextual menu.

In Mac OS X Leopard, these features disappeared from Address Book with nary a trace. As I began looking at what other tools might be available, I was struck by their divergent focus. Each of these tools offers a Status Bar Item with a pull down menu.

ApiMac CallerID emphasizes Caller ID. It works with Bluetooth as well as landline phones connected via modem and networked caller ID servers. Download size is 5.8 MB. CallerID offers 4 panes of preferences. $19.95 for Mac OS 10.4 or newer.

BluePhoneElite 2 emphasizes Bluetooth phone integration. This is a respected app that supports hundreds of Bluetooth phones. Its most unique feature is support for sending, receiving, and archiving SMS (which is not supported on the iPhone). It can even pipe audio to your Mac for use as a handsfree device. Download size is 8 MB. BPE2 has 8 panes of preferences. $24.95 for Mac OS X 10.4.4 or newer.

Dialectic emphasizes dialing including Internet phone systems. Its most unique feature is that it works with so many VoIP phone services. Download size is 6.3 MB. Dialectic has more preference panels and sub-panels than one can easily count. $25 for Mac OS X 10.4 or newer.

PhoneAmego4.gifPhone Amego emphasizes simple usability and uncluttered design. It provides on screen Caller ID, Address Book, Google Voice, and Bluetooth phone integration (including iPhone). SMS is supported through Google Voice. It also works with landline and VoIP phones.

Download size is 5 MB. Phone Amego has 5 preference tabs. $30 for Mac OS X 10.5 or newer.


Spotlight on Innovation

Phone Amego offers several features that have not been previously available in a single convenient package.


  • Supports Caller ID, Dialing, and Address Book integration.
  • Reports both inbound and outbound call status in a consistent heads up window. Can cancel a call in progress.
  • A single uncluttered menu bar item. Phone Amego focusses on the basic things most users want without feeling like an overstuffed sack of features.
  • One program to work with most common phones (Bluetooth cell phones, landlines, and VoIP).
  • Augmented Caller ID (Internet lookups).
  • iCal Logging. Track previous calls in your calendar.
  • Google Voice integration. Dial from any GV connected phone (indirectly). Send SMS to multiple recipients (free).
  • Easy to configure VoIP Caller ID.
  • Easy to configure Caller ID sharing. See who's calling or dial remotely from any computer (running Phone Amego) on your LAN.
  • Bluetooth Hands-Free speakerphone.
  • Simple call screening can block unwanted calls based on their Caller ID.
  • Keep notes about each caller.
  • Displays phone numbers in Address Book format.
  • Designed to maximize up time. In the rare event Phone Amego or some underlying system service crashes, Phone Amego's built-in crash reporter will display a dialog offering to send a detailed crash report to the developer, and then relaunch the application automatically after 30 seconds.