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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
55,404
17,761



A new update to the community-built "Continuity Activation Tool" for OS X Yosemite brings Bluetooth 4.0 USB dongle support, allowing users of some older model Macs to enable Handoff and other Bluetooth-related Continuity features on their machines without upgrading internal hardware. The tool does, however, come with some caveats users should be aware of before attempting to activate these features.

Apple's introduction of Continuity alongside OS X Yosemite promised a suite of features that interweave Mac and iOS devices without any hassle. Unfortunately for Macs old enough to not include Bluetooth 4.0 (and even a few older models that do include it), several of the features are officially unsupported on their machines and these users haven't been able to experience Continuity in its full form.

continuity.png
Addressing this issue, enterprising members of the MacRumors forums banded together to discuss the issue, leading to the creation of a "Continuity Activation Tool." Users with Apple devices unable to directly access the new feature could follow a set of instructions that would enable Bluetooth-linked Continuity features such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot to work on Macs previously unable to support the features.

While only the software patch was required for the mid-2011 MacBook Air and Mac mini, other older Macs that didn't have Bluetooth 4.0, required a more difficult and set-up process involving the installation of completely new wireless cards.

This week, however, Continuity Activation Tool 2.0 has launched, bringing support for Bluetooth 4.0 USB dongles and thus allowing many of these older Macs without Bluetooth 4.0 to be more easily upgraded to support full Continuity. The update makes the process not only much easier, but far cheaper for the average user.

Screenshot-35.png
Creator dokterdok makes a few important notes regarding Bluetooth 4.0 dongles and the Continuity Activation Tool, mainly remarking on dongles best used for the tool and those to steer clear of completely.
A few important notes about using CAT with USB Bluetooth 4.0 dongles:

-Bluetooth 4.0 dongles based on the Cambridge Silicon Radio CSR8510 A10 chip (e.g. Inatek Nano) are not compatible with CAT.
-The recommendation is to look for dongles based on the Broadcom BCM20702 chip, which are similar to the ones used by Apple in their Continuity compatible Macs. A few examples: Asus BT400, IOGEAR GBU521, GMYLE, and many others.
-Instant Hotspot currently doesn't work reliably when using a dongle. This is a known issue, no workarounds have been identified yet.
-Atheros Wi-Fi AirPort cards will prevent Continuity from working even when adding a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle. The System Diagnostic feature of CAT tells which Wi-Fi brand is active. There are no workarounds and no patch is expected to change this, an AirPort card upgrade is required.
As previously reported, most MacRumors forum users have found the tool to work successfully on Macs released circa-2011, but not much has been tested yet on the new Bluetooth 4.0 dongle update. MacRumors has successfully enabled Handoff on a 2010 MacBook Air using the tool and an IOGEAR Bluetooth 4.0 dongle, although it did require several reboots and logouts/logins from iCloud on both the Mac and iOS devices before it began working.

Due to the fact the Continuity Activation Tool requires the disabling of certain security protections like kext signing, and that it needs to sift and move through low-level files in your computer, users should be aware of what they are downloading and exercise caution in doing so. If still interested, users can download the updated Continuity Activation Tool from Github and, after opening the downloaded app, follow the on-screen instructions to get the feature up and running on an older model Mac.

Future Apple software updates may also replace the patches applied by Continuity Activation Tool, thereby breaking Handoff after updating. Reapplying the patch using the tool after updates will, however, restore the functionality.

Article Link: 'Continuity Activation Tool' for Adding Handoff to Older Macs Now Supports Bluetooth 4.0 Dongles
 

Z400Racer37

macrumors 6502a
Feb 7, 2011
710
1,662
Does anyone have any idea where I would get one of the "New Airport Extreme" cards that is mentioned in the graph? I have a early 2011 MBP...

Thanks
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
5,840
2,005
Phoenix, AZ
Remember that everyone gets phone calling and text messaging anyway, this only enables handoff a feature most people don't use anyway.
 

RhythmGuru

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2010
87
8
Remember that everyone gets phone calling and text messaging anyway, this only enables handoff a feature most people don't use anyway.
I'd use it, if it worked. It will work for awhile, then not at all. Works great between my iPhone 6 and iPad mini w/retina. But hardly at all with my late 2013 Retina 15" Macbook Pro. VERY odd, and frustrating. It's as if when I walk away from my computer and come back, it never reconnects.
 

SmileyBlast!

macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2011
654
43
Continuity seems like a *HUGE* Personal Security risk to me.
What's to stop devices you don't own from receiving calls and messages and other private communications intended for you.

It's really strange that this feature is so celebrated.

It's not a customer benefitting feature at all but a really easy way to surveil.

You'd see it in movies all the time, when the bad guys clones someone's phone and theirs rings when his rings. They pick up and hear the entire conversation unbeknownst to the phone owner.

This seems to enable that.
 

bennibeef

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2013
340
161
Continuity seems like a *HUGE* Personal Security risk to me.
What's to stop devices you don't own from receiving calls and messages and other private communications intended for you.

It's really strange that this feature is so celebrated.

It's not a customer benefitting feature at all but a really easy way to surveil.

You'd see it in movies all the time, when the bad guys clones someone's phone and theirs rings when his rings. They pick up and hear the entire conversation unbeknownst to the phone owner.

This seems to enable that.

You need to be logged into the same AppleID with the devices.
 

jthompson666

macrumors member
Aug 20, 2011
79
73
Continuity seems like a *HUGE* Personal Security risk to me.
What's to stop devices you don't own from receiving calls and messages and other private communications intended for you.

It's really strange that this feature is so celebrated.

It's not a customer benefitting feature at all but a really easy way to surveil.

You'd see it in movies all the time, when the bad guys clones someone's phone and theirs rings when his rings. They pick up and hear the entire conversation unbeknownst to the phone owner.

This seems to enable that.

It's tied to your iCloud account. All devices have to be logged in with exactly the same Apple ID in the systems iCloud preferences. It's not a matter of walking up to someone's iThing with my iThing and grabbing all their texts, calls etc
 

Patriot24

macrumors 68030
Dec 29, 2010
2,811
795
California
Continuity seems like a *HUGE* Personal Security risk to me.
What's to stop devices you don't own from receiving calls and messages and other private communications intended for you.

It's really strange that this feature is so celebrated.

It's not a customer benefitting feature at all but a really easy way to surveil.

You'd see it in movies all the time, when the bad guys clones someone's phone and theirs rings when his rings. They pick up and hear the entire conversation unbeknownst to the phone owner.

This seems to enable that.

The feature requires devices to be signed into the same Apple ID and connected via Bluetooth in a close proximity to each other. If someone with malicious intent has the ability to takeover my Apple ID and hack Bluetooth's security, there are probably easier ways to get access to my data.

I disagree that it is not a benefitting feature. As someone who regular switches between devices throughout the day, it is extremely convenient.
 

SmileyBlast!

macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2011
654
43
You're assuming a lot.
Not really; in light of everything we know.

Also all your iMessage iDevices receive the same text messages. No Bluetooth is needed for that; Just a WIFI connection.

----------

If someone hacked your Apple ID, they'd have access to all the information without even needing a Bluetooth connection.

Indeed Apple ID's are the key to opening a treasure trove of personal data.
They are already High Value targets and Continuity just makes it worse.
 

poppy10

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2012
222
227
UK
Really nice to see Apple trying to keep older macs up-to-date with new features when they could have just as easily not have. Well done!!

As others have pointed out, it isn't Apple doing this. In fact Apple deliberately gimped the update for certain older Macs that had all the correct hardware in place and could easily have run Continuity, blocking them for no reason other than to push people to buy new models. Awful way to treat your customers.
 

troop231

macrumors 603
Jan 20, 2010
5,753
481
Does anyone have any idea where I would get one of the "New Airport Extreme" cards that is mentioned in the graph? I have a early 2011 MBP...

Thanks

I don't believe the new cards will fit in the cMBP's, see my post here:

https://forums.macrumors.com/posts/18438927/

Basically it was my goal to bring 802.11ac to the older cMBP's natively (the cards support BT 4.0 too).
 
Last edited:

blackboxxx

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2008
153
118
Remember that everyone gets phone calling and text messaging anyway, this only enables handoff a feature most people don't use anyway.

I second that. As an owner of mid-2014 13" rMBP, initially I was very excited about Continuity, but after more than two months with Yosemite I can say that it was very overhyped. SMS relay feature is nice and I occasionally AirDrop files between the iPhone and the Mac, but instant hotspot is not even worth talking about and I have yet to find any real-world use case for handoff.
It is still mostly confined to Apple apps, with exception for iTunes, which is a strange omission for a flagship app.
The list of 3rd party ones that support it is very short, and it requires purchasing apps in the MAS from the same developer as the iOS counterparts, which is quite expensive for very little benefit.
 
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