At last week’s Apple Expo in Paris, Apple introduced the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse, a pair of Bluetooth-based wireless input devices for Macs running Mac OS X 10.2.6 or later with Bluetooth capabilities (either built in or provided by an external adapter). Both work within 30 feet (9.1 m) of the Mac. The keyboard relies on four AA batteries and comes with Energizer e2 alkaline batteries that promise up to nine months of use, while the mouse uses a pair of AA batteries and should get up to three months of use with its Energizer e2 lithium batteries. Both switch into low power mode automatically and provide on/off switches for times when you know the computer won’t be in use (handy for PowerBook users who want a no-clutter traveling mouse).
Aside from cutting the desktop cords, the most interesting aspect of these products is how they implement Bluetooth. To prevent snoopers from watching keyboard traffic, both devices offer 128-bit encryption of the Bluetooth signals. Also, Apple claims the devices are the first to use Adaptive Frequency Hopping software to eliminate interference between Bluetooth devices and other wireless uses in the 2.4 GHz band (such as Wi-Fi networks and cordless phones). This feature, which will appear in an upcoming Bluetooth 1.2 specification, takes advantage of an FCC ruling last year that provides flexibility for frequency hopping devices using 1 MHz per channel; formerly, devices had to hop among at least 75 channels, but they can now hop among just 15.
A firmware upgrade is expected to be released for all previous Bluetooth hardware offered by Apple, except for the first version of the D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter, to support adaptive hopping.
Retail cost is $70 for each device, and they should be available within two to three weeks from the usual sources. Also, both devices require Mac OS X 10.2.6 or higher. Apple’s press release said nothing about the new keyboard and mouse becoming standard equipment on future Macs, but given Steve Jobs’s legendary desire for sleek, uncluttered design, we wouldn’t be surprised.