I’ve long opposed bluetooth headsets for a bunch of reasons including that the sound quality sucks and that they make you look like an idiot. I still stand by both of those, but Seattle just passed a cell phone law requiring that you use a hands-free device be used to talk while driving. so I got a headset.

The fact that it’s the conversation—not the fact that your hand is busy—which distracts you from driving thus making this law silly is a topic for another post.

Overall I’ve been pleased with the headset, and it provides a bunch of things which I wouldn’t have expected. I can keep both hands in my pockets while talking to people while I’m walking outside enabling me to keep them warm. The volume can be made significantly louder than my phone’s was originally, which makes talking in airports and busy streets possible, though still not fun. I can leave the phone wherever it gets best reception (on top of the spare desktop at the back of the desk by the window) on my desk at work while freeing me to move around at my desk.

That being said, the biggest annoyance I have that I didn’t anticipate is that I’m constantly trying to answer the phone with the actual phone only to find that audio has been rerouted through the headset. Then, I need to rummage around to find it while the person on the other end is wondering what the hell is going on.

I don’t think there’s any solution for me other than to try and remember whether the bluetooth headset is on and enabled or not, but I was thinking about how it could be made better. My first thought was to make it so that if I started a call using the handset rather than the headset, it should disable the headset for that call, which works beautifully for incoming calls, but since you can’t initiate outgoing calls on my headset, that won’t work for them.

My second thought, which I think has more legs, is that the phone should figure out whether or not your holding the handset to your ear. If you are, you obviously want to use the handset, not the headset. This stupid simple solution seems like it would work every time and I’m 99% sure the iPhone already has the technology to do this in it because I think it turns off the backlight (and locks the touchscreen?) whenever the phone is to your ear.

You could extend this so that the headset also knew whether it was on your ear, so that the phone knew to send the audio there when it was right as well, but that seems like it shouldn’t be that necessary.

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