The Complete Guide to iPhone Car Integration | iLounge Article

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The Complete Guide to iPhone Car Integration

Though we’ve reviewed hundreds of iPhone-compatible accessories since last June, there has not been a complete, turnkey solution for in-car iPhone integration that average users can go out and purchase with ease. The reason is simple: though the iPhone is supposed to be Apple’s “best iPod ever,” it actually doesn’t work properly with many of the iPod’s best previous car accessories, and the iPhone accessory development process has proved unusually difficult for even the best engineers out there.

Today, the major problem is that there’s no single accessory that charges, mounts, and performs all audio from an iPhone, so unless you want to hand-hold your iPhone while you drive—which is against the law in many places—you can’t just connect one cable and expect to safely use both its music and phone features. This is largely due to Apple-imposed software limitations, but also certain technical hurdles developers need to overcome. So for now, in-car use of an iPhone requires a number of different parts, and we’ve created this Complete Guide to iPhone Car Integration to help you choose the ones that are best for your vehicle and personal needs.

The Budget Solution

What’s the least expensive way to integrate your iPhone into your car? Unless you’ve recently purchased a new car, it’s this one: the Budget Solution combination of an iPhone mount, a single cable that charges the iPhone and broadcasts its music to your FM radio, and a wired headset. This solution will cost you as little as $90—less if you shop aggressively—but can run up to $325 depending on the parts you select.

Let’s start with the car mount. Though you can conceivably toss the iPhone into your lap or a cupholder and skip this part entirely, we’ve found that having the iPhone’s touchscreen handy for dialing and music navigation is a must for safe in-car use. The mount shown here is the best we’ve tested to date, ProClip’s Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel for iPhone, which sells for $65 including the cost of the iPhone holder and a mount that’s made to fit your specific make, model, and year of car. This mount adjusts to your preferred angle, and can even be tilted to let your passenger control the phone or use Cover Flow mode. But many companies offer cheap mounts that use suction cups, vent mounts, or other inexpensive ways to attach your iPhone to your windshield or dashboard; some may not be legal where you live. Our accessory guide includes other iPhone and device-agnostic Car Mount options; one of the cheapest we’ve seen is Griffin’s iSqueez, which sells for $10, and is about to be updated with a new version.

Next, there’s the Car Charger, which is sold with or without an integrated FM Transmitter. This part is necessary to keep your iPhone’s battery juiced up on the road, and enable you to hear its audio through most car stereos. The FM transmitter broadcasts whatever music is playing on the iPhone onto a radio station of your choice, but again, it doesn’t do anything with phone call audio.

(If you’re lucky enough to have a car with a line-in/aux-in port on its stereo, you can skip the integrated FM transmitter portion and go with a simple $20 iPhone charger such as XtremeMac’s InCharge Auto or Griffin’s PowerJolt for iPod and iPhone (shown). You’ll also need to connect a $10-20 iPhone-to-car audio cable such as Belkin’s Mini-Stereo Link Cable or Monster’s iCable for Car (iPod/iPhone) to the iPhone’s headphone port for audio, then adjust the volume on both the iPhone and your car.)

So far, there are only two FM transmitter and charger combinations we know to be really iPhone-ready. Belkin’s new version of TuneCast Auto (shown) is set to be the first official “Works With iPhone” FM transmitter and car charger, and sells for $80. For the same price, Griffin’s iTrip Auto with SmartScan (shown) currently lacks the Works With iPhone certification, but still works with the iPhone anyway; a fully iPhone-shielded version is forthcoming early this year. Worth noting: though Apple’s iPhone certification program tries to prevent cell phone interference from junking up connected accessories, it can’t stop the same interference from leaking into your car’s stereo and speaker systems, so you may notice beeps mid-music no matter what you buy. That said, these cables, and others that are Works With iPhone certified, will do better than most at shielding out those noises.

The final piece in our budget solution is a wired iPhone headset. This is the least expensive way to take phone calls without holding the phone up to your head, or using speakerphone mode, which has its own issues. We call it a budget item because Apple includes one for free with every iPhone, called the iPhone Stereo Headset (shown) and sells replacements for $29, but there are now iPhone-specific options ranging up to $179, all reviewed here, notably including V-Moda’s Vibe Duo (shown).

The Obvious Solution

The next solution we look at here is called “Obvious” because it’s not the cheapest around, but is extremely common for users of Bluetooth cell phones such as the iPhone. It offers one advantage over the Budget Solution: phone calls come directly into your wireless earpiece without forcing you to keep a wire dangling down to the iPhone’s headphone port. But it also has two consequences: you really need to keep your Bluetooth headset and the iPhone charged.

We’ve reviewed a number of Bluetooth headsets for the iPhone over the last six months, including the $100 Plantronics Voyager 520 and $150 Discovery 665 shown here. They both do well both indoors and outdoors, though a noise-filtering headset such as Aliph’s Jawbone will sound the best to your callers if you’re in noisy environments such as a sportscar or older, less noise-dampened vehicle. Many other headsets we’ve reviewed can be found here.

Pairing a Bluetooth headset with your iPhone is relatively easy. You go into the Settings menu, pick General, then pick Bluetooth. Turn Bluetooth on, then follow the instructions that come with your headset to initiate Bluetooth pairing mode. The iPhone will generally discover the device instantly at that point, and require you to enter a PIN number found in the headset’s manual. Once that’s done, the devices are paired. If you’ve purchased a Bluetooth 2.0 headset, the iPhone will typically find it immediately when you turn both the headset and iPhone Bluetooth feature on; otherwise you may need to press a button on the headset to let the iPhone know it’s there. But both devices will drain battery power more quickly when Bluetooth is on and being used for calls, so look for a headset with a convenient included charger, and make sure whatever iPhone charger you’re using is guaranteed to fully power the iPhone when Bluetooth and phone features are being used. The picks we’ve mentioned above feature that guarantee; other chargers do not.

The Tape Deck Solution

The Tape Deck Solution is different from the Obvious Solution in two ways: your iPod is connecting to an in-car tape deck rather than the FM radio, and so you need to supply a cable and/or adapter that will work with the iPhone. This unwieldy connection of parts requires the most work to assemble, but will sound better than an FM transmitter cable in your car when you’re listening to music from your iPhone, and will still enable you to charge the iPhone and take calls wirelessly from a Bluetooth headset. The total cost of the tape adapter and iPhone adapter cable will be under $25.

Our top-rated adapters, Philips’ PH2050W, and Sony’s CPA-9C still sell for under $15 and are the best around, but neither has an iPhone-compatible headphone port plug. Monster’s iCarPlay Cassette Adapter has the right plug, but doesn’t sound as good. So you’ll need a headphone port adapter: we’d recommend ifrogz’ Fitz, which sells for $8.

The Optimal Solution

The biggest problem with the solutions above? They require you to connect a lot of cables and create a mess in the process. That’s why we’re excited about the Optimal Solution, which is cleaner, simpler, and offers the best phone calling experience, too. It replaces the Bluetooth and wired headset options with a relatively new type of car accessory that mounts on your car’s visor. And it uses a single bottom connection to charge the iPhone and output its music to your car stereo. The only issue? This solution can be expensive.

For the Optimal Solution, you’ll need the Bluetrek/Contour Design SurfaceSound Compact, which adds a Bluetooth 2.0-enabled microphone and flat panel NXT speaker combination to your car visor. Contour plans to sell it for $100, but stores are already showing a street price for the SurfaceSound Compact through Bluetrek of $65. In our testing, the system does a superb job of automatically connecting to the iPhone when both are turned on, screening out in-car noise while you’re driving, and enabling both you and your passenger to hear and talk with callers. Pairing works just like the Bluetooth headset instructions above, and SurfaceSound Compact runs for 15 hours of talk time—21 days on standby. It comes with a car charger and cable to let you recharge the battery when you’re on the go. Using SurfaceSound Compact makes the calling part of using an iPhone substantially better in your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

As “optimal” as the solution above may be, it’s not “ideal”—we’re still waiting for end-to-end, single-connection accessories that will enable most iPhone users to enjoy music, telephone calls, and charging without having to cobble together parts. For that to happen, Apple will need to give iPhone the power to wirelessly stream both phone calls and music through Bluetooth, or handle phone calls through its Dock Connector, or both. Until then, iPhone car integration will require most users to purchase each of the parts we’ve mentioned above separately, choosing the ones that are best-suited to their existing cars’ needs. We’re continuing to watch for better iPhone mounting, charging, and audio options, and of course, you’ll see them on iLounge as soon as they arrive.

Postscript: Closed Comments

On January 30, 2008, we closed all comments to this article based on repeated attempts at advertising, and posts of misleading information that will confuse readers. We re-emphasize here that—unfortunately—“iPod-compatible” car kits do not necessarily provide proper charging or AV connectivity for iPhones, and that Apple firmware changes have created tremendous uncertainty as to whether a given iPod accessory will or will not fully work with the iPhone at a certain point in time. Additionally, as noted on all of our comment pages, we expressly prohibit advertising in our comments.

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Comments

1

will there every be a way to have voice activated dialing on the iphone? without buttons to feel, and without voice activation, the iphone is problematic in the car.

Posted by khf525 on January 28, 2008 at 1:46 PM (PDT)

2

Nice article.  However, you didn’t cover the fact that the iPod and iPhone lack a line-out connection.  If you have a newer car or stereo, chances are that you have a line-in jack, but the iPod or iPhone will sound much better if you use a line-out rather than the headphone jack.  Is there a good solution for line-out and audio for the iPhone?  The SiK seems OK but I’m uncertain whether it will work with the iPhone.  Same for the Sendstation.

Posted by Greg Glockner on January 28, 2008 at 1:58 PM (PDT)

3

khf525: Apple would have to enable the feature or permit a third-party to develop an application with it.

Greg: Both the iPod and iPhone have line-out capabilities, however, they both depend on accessories to convert the Dock Connector’s pins into an aux/line cable-friendly port. Unfortunately, no accessory currently exists that simultaneously enables line-out functionality and properly charges the iPhone with its required voltage. Plenty do this for the iPod, so Belkin and other companies are working on iPhone-ready versions of those products, as well as new ones.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 28, 2008 at 1:58 PM (PDT)

4

My brother recently bought a Ford Explorer with the Sync system.  He does not have an iPhone.  He has the LG Voyager - couldn’t talk him out of it! - but he says it works great by bluetooth connection for that phone.  Has anyone used the iPhone with this system?  If it works as seemlessly as his does with the Voyager it might actually be a reason to consider a Ford car (otherwise why would you want one!)

Posted by TosaDeac on January 28, 2008 at 2:27 PM (PDT)

5

Jeremy: the SendStation PocketDock Line Out USB claims to be compatible with the iPhone, though they do not participate in the Apple iPhone certification.  If it is indeed compatible, you could combine this with a USB A-B cable and a USB 12V adaptor, and you would have the charger and line-out.  It’s a kludge but it should work.  The SiK imp may work but it’s hard to tell.

Posted by Greg Glockner on January 28, 2008 at 2:40 PM (PDT)

6

I’ve been using a Peripheral iPod Interface in my 2004 Scion xB, first with my classic iPods, then with my iPhone. It’s not certified, but I’ve never had any interference problems. I simply have to dismiss the “This device isn’t compatible…” message every time I connect.

The device provides line out sound directly to my factory stereo, allows me to change tracks using the dash controls and seems to charge my iPhone just fine. Since I plug it in almost every time I’m in the car, I rarely have to worry about my phone’s battery running down.

They’re sold through Crutchfield <http://www.crutchfield.com/App/Product/Item/Main.aspx?g=305250&i=541ISAS71&tp=1126>, but I found my much cheaper on eBay. Did the installation myself and it took about half an hour.

Kind of surprised iLounge has never reviewed one.

I use a Bluetooth headset for calls, but am considering the Blutrek handsfree unit after this review.

Posted by emax on January 29, 2008 at 8:51 AM (PDT)

7

“Unfortunately, no accessory currently exists that simultaneously enables line-out functionality and properly charges the iPhone with its required voltage.”

The dock that comes with the iPhone has a line-out jack.

My only problem with using that is I have a case so my iPhone won’t fit in the dock anymore. :(

Posted by paavopetie on January 29, 2008 at 10:58 AM (PDT)

8

emax: The big issue is the “seems to charge” part. It turns out that properly charging the iPhone when its wireless features are activated requires more juice than most of the old iPod chargers put out. The iPhone has no user-viewable voltage meter to let you determine whether or not it’s getting enough juice.

Greg, paavopetie: Various dock accessories (including Apple’s) may perform the conversion but they don’t include the car charging component. You can try to connect your iPhone Dock to one of the Griffin or XtremeMac chargers and see how it works for you.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 29, 2008 at 12:41 PM (PDT)

9

I’ve been using a Usa•spec ipod interface for about a year now - connects to the head unit via the changer port and controls the iPhone (airport mode dialog appears) via the head unit buttons. Sound quality is excellent, charging appears to be as fast as when connected to the mac. I use a Kensington windshield mount and a Bluetooth headset - when a call comes in, the iPhone fades the music and sends the call to the headset. Painless! Call finishes, music fades back in.

I bought it for a 5.5g ipod but usa•spec certify it as compatible with the iPhone. Cost about $90(ebay) plus 15 minutes install (2 power cables to splice)

No connection, just a satisfied user.

Posted by beadgc23 on January 29, 2008 at 1:35 PM (PDT)

10

Addition to above post - it connects to the iPhone dock connector via a 6’ cable - very handy. It also has a stereo RCA input (switchable on the head unit) for other audio sources.

Posted by beadgc23 on January 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

11

For all those w/ line-in on their stereos:


Just use Belkin’s Auto Kit for iPod
http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=149006


Run a 1/8” mini-plug to your head and be done with it. You’ll still have to use bluetooth for call audio but at least you can make use of the superior line-out audio and charge up at the same time.
<br>
FYI: this thing has a little amp built in that you don’t want to overdrive your system with (it won’t blow anything up but it’ll sound a little muddy if you crank it too far)

Posted by mebejoe11 on January 29, 2008 at 2:26 PM (PDT)

12

can you hack the onstar system to access that mic?

If so, let me know.

Posted by med on January 29, 2008 at 3:53 PM (PDT)

13

One other option I look at off and on is a headset with bluetooth—for example this Pioneer DEH-P7900BT. You guys have never gotten a review of the various car stereo iPod options (Blaupunkt, Pioneer, etc) which I’d live to see.
Most work via the dock connector.

Posted by cmackg on January 29, 2008 at 4:35 PM (PDT)

14

I bought an Alpine CDE (9827…I think)to use with my ipod (controls ipod menu and playlists from stereo.) Worked GREAT! Then I bought an iphone because when I tested the stereo with my brothers iphone and it worked! (Alpine cable plugs into bottom jack of ipod/iphone.) BUT after the 1st iphone update it stopped working.
The other issue is that when you are playing music and a call comes in, if you take the line out of the headphone jack, you can’t hear the caller and vice versa. You would think apple would fix this asap! or at least let a 3rd party fix it. All they need is an adapter with a built in microphone from the headphone jack to the stereo…kind of like the stock headphones. When a call comes in, the music would fade down and you could take the call while driving. The voice over the car speakers and the microphone picking up your voice…is it really that difficult to create?

Posted by culbert404 on January 29, 2008 at 5:25 PM (PDT)

15

I have an ‘08 Ford Focus with Microsoft SYNC integration. My iPhone works perfectly with it wrt iPod and Bluetooth phone functionality. SMS text functionality is not yet supported, but SYNC is user upgradeable, with new features due out this fall. It’ll be a free download from syncmyride.com. The new features, btw are automatic emergency dispatch calling (when airbags are deployed, with a 10 second window to verbally cancel the call and a prerecorded message played to the dispatcher, if you are unable to talk), and automatic maintenance reminders using feedback from the vehicle’s onboard computers.

I am really impressed with the voice recognition, which requires no voice training, is 99.9% accurate and after one month is hard to live without: “Play artist Dave Matthews,” “Call John Doe on cell,” “Play playlist Funky Mix,” or “Call Dad at home,” etc. Each time the iPhone connects to SYNC, SYNC’s iPod index and phonebook index are updated.

It took me about a week to use the system to it’s full potential, and to realize it’s a steal as a $395 option (standard in some Ford-Lincoln-Mercury models and trim levels). And everything, including the emergency dispatch and maintenance reminder upgrade this fall, is free; there’s no monthly subscription.
I am really impressed with the voice recognition, which requires no voice training, is 99.9% accurate and after one month is hard to live without: “Play artist Dave Matthews,” “Call John Doe on cell,” “Play playlist Funky Mix,” or “Call Dad at home,” etc. Each time the iPhone connects to SYNC, SYNC’s iPod index and phonebook index are updated.

It took me about a week to use the system to it’s full potential, and to realize it’s a steal as a $395 option (standard in some Ford-Lincoln-Mercury models and trim levels). And everything, including the emergency dispatch and maintenance reminder upgrade this fall, is free; there’s no monthly subscription.

Posted by ckontyko on January 29, 2008 at 11:10 PM (PDT)

16

The Pioneer AVIC-D3 is a iPod controlling, bluetooth phone working dual-din touchscreen head-unit that can replace your car stereo.  This one device works great with the iPod and handles both audio playback and phone functionality. 

Its not cheap, but its also a GPS unit too - so if money is not a problem, there is no better solution.

Posted by theotherstevejobs on January 29, 2008 at 11:24 PM (PDT)

17

This article is poor, and misses the USA Spec device which works for music (but not calls), and PAC audio connection cables, which I have used in multiple Camaros, for instance.

Posted by libertyforall on January 30, 2008 at 1:30 AM (PDT)

18

Sorry, but this artikel is far from complete.
There are several cars that offer iPod and iPhone integration.
I have a VW Passat 06 with an iPod connector to the car stereo and a bluetooth adapter for the integrated car phone.
So my iPhone connects wired to the car stereo and via bluetooth for phoning.
I can answer calls by pushing the phone knob on the steering wheel.
Only downside is when i want to make a call i have to take the iPhone in my hand to dial.

Posted by lollypop on January 30, 2008 at 2:33 AM (PDT)

19

Check out GROM Audio (http://www.gromaudio.com).  Inexpensive adapter for factory stereo (fits inline w/ your headunit) which allows iPod/Touch/iPhone operation via headunit or iPod itself.  Very cool, great deal.  You can find them on eBay, as well, via the GROM Audio store.

Posted by donerb on January 30, 2008 at 7:38 AM (PDT)

20

I have a ‘07 Jeep Commander with the Mopar iPod Integration kit.  The iPhone thru the Mopar kit, worked from June 29, when I bought it until the iPhone 1.1.3 update.  Now the Mopar kit doesn’t recognize the iPhone.

Posted by thotos on January 30, 2008 at 8:25 AM (PDT)

21

what’s all the fuss?
i have the iphone setup with this for $25
http://www.dlo.com/products/ventmount_iphone_Prod.tpl?command=showpage&cart=6.64010624169987
then i have it connected to my audi with a blitzsafe connector. $170 installed (you just say “no” to aiplane mode) and with a USA spec PA11VW6 in my VW. Those give it power and music through the stereo.
Then I have a parrot ck3000 to override the stereo when a call comes in via bluetooth. $170 installed
NO WIRES, PERFECT SETUP for about $400

Posted by sizz on April 30, 2008 at 3:53 PM (PDT)

22

Nice Article !!!!
But i think there is another way of integration :
in the line out lack (aux) there is one more chanel for the microphone, is this possible to fit this kind of lack to the iphone and then wire the cables for audio, and connect to the third channel a microphone’ such as normal car kits ???
use this cable:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103278&cp;=&sr=1&origkw=1/8+plug+rca&kw=1/8+plug+rca&parentPage=search

and two end for the speakers, the third to a microphone ...

Posted by Izik on May 2, 2008 at 11:40 AM (PDT)

23

What stores sell SurfaceSound Car Kit? I would like to go and pick it up if possible. Anywhere in Los Angeles.

Posted by lisa on May 3, 2008 at 1:39 AM (PDT)

24

I’m also on the USASpec bandwagon. I installed one for my iPod in my ‘08 Pilot and could not be more satisfied. Installation was easy, everything hides away securely when not in use, and it directly interfaces with my stock deck - none of that crappy FM tuner stuff…just pure AUX IN! As a bonus, the thing works perfectly with my iPhone. Charges, plays music, fades on incoming calls or SMS.

I also purchased a hands-free bluetooth speakerphone from Jabra which is on my visor. So, I can keep the bluetooth connection on when my iPhone is plugged in (and not lose any charge) and when a call comes in the music is faded and I can talk. I love the setup.

Posted by matt on May 18, 2008 at 6:02 AM (PDT)

25

Try IO Play, i have it on my car. it connects my iphone (or any other bluetooth phone) to car stereo via bluetooth for handsfree, at the same time the ipod function can be enabled with a seperate ipod/iphone plug in that doesnt need any wiring between your ipod/iphone to the car sterero - basicaly a bluetooth solution for all. the only problem is the installation which needs professional job.

Posted by Cedric on May 18, 2008 at 10:24 AM (PDT)

26

Thanks for the great article and comments. I’m having issues with music playback that I’m hoping someone can help me resolve.

Whenever I use the tape deck option, (the only I’ve tried), I get horrible cell-phone static through the stereo. It’s intermittent… usually around when I get a call or it checks email through edge. The only way to get rid of it for good is to use airplane mode, which cramps my communication just a bit.

I’ve already lost a speaker here, and part of my sanity. I bought the tape from the apple store, and it said iphone compatible or whatever. I’ve tried every place in the car I can think of to stash the phone, including wedged between the passenger seat & the headrest, but to no avail.

Any ideas? I’d really like to use my new iphone to listen to music in the car, but right now it’s completely pointless. The car is an ‘03 VW Passat with the monsoon stereo.

Thanks!!! -R

Posted by Ryan on June 4, 2008 at 12:45 PM (PDT)

27

I have a Passat/Monsoon without CD changer…the CD cables were run into trunk by VW though.  I was able to purchase an interface for the CD changer wires that enabled me to run a stereo aux line to the front…I set up an aux jack on one of the blanks on the front console.  Works great with 5G iPod…will try it out with iPhone when 3g’s are avail.  Waaaay better than FM transmittor

Posted by Peter Rice on June 30, 2008 at 5:07 PM (PDT)

28

Whats best iphone(1g)/ipod connection for 2007 honda odyssey?

Posted by bill on August 15, 2008 at 1:51 PM (PDT)

29

Hi All those soloutions are not optimal.

1.Just buy a cheap head unit with aux in
2. Get a monster mic extender
3. Route the iphone audio directly into car stero
4. buy a car charger

Simple and the best soloution now you can make calls via your car stero system.

Why didnt u think of that???

Posted by Matt on August 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM (PDT)

30

I also use the USASpec system on my 01 Firebird along with the ProClips holder.

The USASpec system work perfect with the phone over the cars AUX/CD Changer input and I still keep full steering wheel control (Next/Previous/Mute/Vol +/-).

The next thing I’m looking for is hands free calling and I thank sizz for mentioning the parrot ck3000 I think I’ll be picking that up.

Just a thing to note, with the new 3g phones charging is no longer supported by the old USASpec dock cables, you will need to purchase a new cable that supports charging when they are released by USASpec

Posted by Neomoon on September 11, 2008 at 9:20 AM (PDT)

31

I use the iPhone 3G dock ($29, free for original iPhone). I use velcro tape on the bottom of the dock and attached it to my dashboard so I can see and reach it while driving.  I have the power cord running to the cigarette adapter, $20-$30. Then I use an mini cable from the aux input on the car stereo to the dock.  For phone audio, you can actually use the speaker phone function on the iphone but it is hard to hear at highway speeds.  I have been using a bluetooth headset that I keep charged in the car (jawbone $100).  But I would like to get the bluetooth speaker phone that is mentioned in this article.

Posted by sailom on December 1, 2008 at 1:42 PM (PDT)

32

I use the tape deck method and it works fine, most of the time. I occasionally get complaints of an echo when some calls are made but it’s usually because I have the volume up to high. If I’m in the tape mode, calls interrupt the music playing and it resumes after the call is over. I told a friend who has the 1st gen iPhone, he got an adapter from Radio Shack and he talks on his phone the same way. I have a cigarette lighter charger and talk to my complete satisfaction. I also use my bluetooth headset on occasion, when I have it charged and ready.

Posted by 5thwarder on January 9, 2009 at 11:42 PM (PDT)

33

I had the mopar ipod kit as well and it worked perfectly with my ipod.  When I use it with the iphone I get great integration with the music integration side of things and it will even pause music while calls come in.  It doesn’t charge because of the voltage issue and I have to use a bluetooth setup for calls but at the moment it’s the best possible scenario without all the wires and cables.  I would seriously recommend getting this for any iphone because when you need to charge your phone just switch cables and listen to the radio for a while.  Bluetooth is still crappy with the iphone no matter what device you have.  I’ve tried about 4 devices after researching a lot and there really is no optimal solution until the cable that can plug in the bottom of the phone does everything and integrates it with the stereo.  C’mon apple get your #### together.

Posted by Jason Skelton on January 10, 2009 at 5:53 PM (PDT)

34

I have a Honda fit with a 12 volt charger and a auxillary line-in (1/8” jack) for mp3 players etc on the stereo.  All I do is plug the 1/8” cable from the stereo to the headline line on the iphone and then charge the iphone at the same time with the 12 volt - done!

Posted by Joe Taylor on February 11, 2009 at 3:07 PM (PDT)

35

I own a Prius + a Garmin nüvi 1250. Started with a dock mount for iPhone then switched to a Parrot MKi 9100 for 250 US$. Less expensive than the MKi 9200 and the screen is tinier.

Works well: iTunes via the wired connector with link to the car stereo, plays on all speakers.

iPhone Hands free calls with Bluetooth, a small remote attachs to the steernig wheel so I can accept/reject a call. Voice recognition of the Parrot hands free kit works well too.

Only drawback, the Parrot car kit for iPhone need a pro car installer to setup and wire behind the dashboard.

Posted by bretzelbug on June 10, 2009 at 5:05 AM (PDT)

36

I’m currently using the Universal Dock with the CapsuleRebel adapter (my case). Audio playback,... is fine but it jiggles back and forth when I drive… I’m worried the dock connector of the iPhone will be damaged after a while.

What do you guys think? Is the dock connector designed for such strain or should I refrain from using this solution and look for something better?

Posted by Strider on June 30, 2009 at 12:04 AM (PDT)

37

i just bought a transmitter and it charges and works great but if you call the iphone while music is playing it goes straight to voicemail anyone know how to fix this so calls can interruot?  I dont need to answer throught the speaker just want to be able to receive incoming call..thanks in advance

Posted by Tanya on August 20, 2009 at 6:57 PM (PDT)

38

I’m new to the iPhone scene, just got a 3GS.  My car stereo has an aux in.  I just saw this adapter:  htt p://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16855998908.  It plugs into iPhone headphone jack, and then I could use a male-male stereo cable to the aux in.  The mic picks up my voice, and the audio plays through my car speakers.  Should work, no?  What do you think?  I plan to give it a go and I’ll let everyone know.

Posted by Shaun on August 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM (PDT)

39

For Shaun posted AUg 28, 2009:
Hi Shaun - I’m extremly interested to know how you went?

Posted by Jami on August 30, 2009 at 3:01 PM (PDT)

40

The Venturi Mini will allow you to listen to your music on iPhone and take calls. It will also charge the iphone through it’s USB charge point. When you get a phonecall it displays who is calling via RDS to the stereo. The FM transmitter isn’t the best and you need to find a free channel, and you will need an iPhone mount. But all in all I believe this to be the most elegant and user friendly solution.

Posted by Sean on August 31, 2009 at 7:53 PM (PDT)

41

Success!  I got the Griffin adapter in the link above ($15 shipped).  The adapter plugs into the headphone jack on my iPhone, and it has a built-in mic and a female stereo jack out.  I then run a stereo cable from the adapter to the aux in on my car stereo.  I hear the speaker over the car speakers, and I talk at the in-line mic.  I can post a pic if you want to see it.

Posted by Shaun on September 14, 2009 at 3:04 PM (PDT)

42

iLounge, please update this article. The 3GS has totally different standards. Someone has to have built a combination dock, transmitter/charger and speaker phone for the iPhone by now. I know I’m not alone in wanting something like this. What’s NEW?

Posted by urbanslaughter on September 15, 2009 at 12:33 PM (PDT)

43

For some reason (after the 3.1 iPhone update?), the telephone audio suddenly started working through my Honda Odyssey’s audio system (through the aux-in jack in the way back seat), eliminating the need for bluetooth. Total cost? $5 for the charger and $5 for the aux cable.

Posted by triodad on September 18, 2009 at 4:18 PM (PDT)

44

You might mention that as of (at least) 2009, you can get complete iPhone integration with a Honda Civic EX w/Navi.

You get a USB connection in the center console which gets you control of the iPod functionality, and Navi gets you Bluetooth Hands-Free control of the phone portion.

Unfortunately, voice control of the Aux section of the stereo is practically non-existant, and there is no voice control pass-through which allows you to voice control the iPhone 3GS <sigh>.

All you need is an iPhone USB cable.

Posted by Verne Arase on September 25, 2009 at 5:54 AM (PDT)

45

The upcoming TomTom Adapter might fit the bill.  Somehow, I found the users guide on the FCC site (I believe) and it has audio out cable, blue tooth a nice vacuum mount and power via USB cable.

Another simple solution is the Apple dock: Power, lineout, and still have bluetooth.

Posted by ELSE on September 29, 2009 at 9:27 AM (PDT)

46

I purchased a Monster SoniTalk Hands-free Mic from Best Buy for around $14(Model: 123972-00 | SKU: 9120426). Plug the mic into the iPhones headphone connector and plug a regular stereo cable from the mic’s female connector to the cars aux connector and you have full hands free phone conversation. Mic’s sound quality is very good, just wish the mic’s cable was longer so it could routed behind the car’s trim pieces and have the mic permanantly mounter on the sun visor or somewhere up there.

Posted by Bill D on October 1, 2009 at 8:14 AM (PDT)

47

Everybody seems to bag on the the new tom tom iphone car kit but I don’t understand why?  They say its way too expensive. @ $120.  I currently have a Motorola Bluetooth handsfree ROKR T505(needs power) in my car $100 it also feeds it to the car stereo. and a cable for charging my iphone DLO $27(needs power), and No Mount. For what I can see from reviews the tom tom mounts, charges, does speakerphone(mic and speaker), improves upon the internal gps of the 3GS and only needs one power plug for the same price. Is there another or better solution.

ps my car has no built in bluetooth or ipod support its a 03 crv.

Posted by Brian D on October 17, 2009 at 12:52 PM (PDT)

48

Bought Venturi mini works great with my iphone 3Gs.Charges the phone while , uses A2dp to stream the music and good quality hands free . Would recommend the product for any one looking to buy handsfree car kit for their iphone.

Posted by Roger on October 27, 2009 at 2:51 AM (PDT)

49

Instead of speakerphone, just leave the phone hooked up to car audio and crank up the volume and talk like it’s a speakerphone. I’m not sure why this works as well as it does, but I’ve had few complaints. The call audio comes through the speakers, and the mic on the phone apparently picks up my voice just fine. The main difference when you touch the “spakerphone” opton is audio comes through the iphone speaker instead of through the audio out. My wife could not tell any difference in my voice when I switched back and forth.

Posted by James D on October 30, 2009 at 7:26 AM (PDT)

50

I have a fm transmitter with an output voltage of somewheres between 4.5-5.5 volts, same asmy iPhone. I have “old school” regular chargers, with a blk & red only. Obviously less wires then the USB cord. I have a regular plane Jane car with no cd played, but my lincoln DOES have 2 12 v jacks. I just need to figure out, hopefully, how I can make my existing “Old school” chargers, and my already cut in two USB cord. So i can listen to my tunes and charge me phone. I’d rather do a little labor than to spend $$$. Thanks please help!!

Posted by Brian Dee on November 29, 2009 at 11:33 PM (PDT)

51

Hello, I have a Monsoon radio in a 2001 VW Beetle with a tape deck. What can I do to get the correct car kit for my car… Would love connect and play through the stereo and have a remote control so that I don’t have to pick up the phone to dial or change the songs on my iPhone 3G. Thanks for the suggestions in advance.

Posted by Jasmine D. Malloy on December 2, 2009 at 7:48 PM (PDT)

52

I replaced the factory head unit in my ‘97 S-class Mercedes with a Sony unit I bought from Crutchfield for $200.00.
It came with a mic, but I was able to use the built-in mic in my car.
It has bluetooth and a USB port, so I can use either bluetooth streaming for music and calls, or I can plug the iPhone dock connector into the USB port for best quality music, and the phone works great.
For short trips and commuting, I use bluetooth streaming, for long trips I use the USB port which also charges the iPhone. I can leave the iPhone in my pocket when I get in the car, when I start the car, the Sony head unit finds the iPhone, and all calls are automatically received through my car’s speakers. I simply have to press one button to answer calls, music or radio stops until the call is done, then automatically starts. I rarely make calls when I drive but it’s easy enough to keep the phone in one of the reachable compartments in the car.
So my solution was to simply replace the head unit, total cost was $200.00 and it works great.

Posted by Kevin Fahey on December 3, 2009 at 6:49 AM (PDT)

53

I experimented with the Monster Sonitalk after reading post 46.  I purchased a 20ft 4-conductor 3.5mm extension cable from MCM Electronics to extend the reach of the Sonitalk mic, and also bought a long male/male stereo extension to get the output back to the aux jack in my car.  The sound output was really great, as was the function of the Sonitalk’s button, which stops and resumes music, in addition to answering and hanging up calls.  But I was told that now and then there was a lot echo on the other end of the line.  I tested all the cables independently, and lost nothing in that department.  I think the result is that the Monster mic was conceived to work with headphones, and not designed to deal with exposure to the other end of the phone call.  That’s as technical as I get.  I had hoped to have a sweet handfree setup for $30, but it didn’t pan out.  Maybe a different mic would help, if that exists.

Posted by plum on December 7, 2009 at 11:21 AM (PDT)

54

Out of the few tech stuff of my environment, that all works more or less well, I’m 100% impressed with the BT Audio system fitted in my car.
This is the only one where all works like a breeze with the Iphone: in/outgoing quality calls / itunes music / address book voice activation.
I have no clue who is the audio manufacturer, but that would be worth the $ to integrate/replace into an existing car audio.
(For the car you’ll need a 2009/10 Renault Clio Exception. Europe only wink))

Posted by Chris on December 8, 2009 at 2:36 AM (PDT)

55

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with no auxiliary plug and no tape deck.  What can I do to hook up my Mac Ipod?

Posted by Pendleton57 on December 11, 2009 at 2:21 PM (PDT)

56

Use a parrot system it works great and easy to install

Posted by Joe1980 on December 15, 2009 at 7:53 AM (PDT)

57

Any suggestions for making the Belkin TuneBase Direct work in a car without an accessory jack?

Posted by Paul on December 25, 2009 at 4:48 PM (PDT)

58

I have an Alpine CDA 9887 with an interface cord that connects to my iPhone 3G. I have had to purchase an adapter to convert the voltage to support the iPhone but to date it has worked fine. I now have to comply with a hands free law in my state of residence and purchased a Bluetooth headset. I am experiencing a problem now with the iPhone sending the music output to the Bluetooth device rather than through the cable to my head unit. I have been unable to find a way to direct the phone to Bluetooth and music through the interface cable. Anyone have any suggestions?

Posted by Steve on January 1, 2010 at 12:58 PM (PDT)

59

I just bought the Bluetrek/Contour Design Surface Sound Compact. My car has an optional accessory that gives you hands free with voice commands, but the price is around $800 to $1,000 installed. The Bluetrek/Contour Design gives me an excellent service with very clear sound, no loss of bluetooth connection, the persons to whom I talk hear me perfectly well, and all for less than $100. I like this product and will buy two more for my other two cars (one is my wife’s). I hope more manufacturers of iPhone accessories learn from this excellent product.

Posted by Jose on January 7, 2010 at 6:38 PM (PDT)

60

How about a bluetooth car stereo supporting A2DP and an universal charging mount? That solution cost me about 120 Swiss Francs and works extremely well..

I can play iPhone music through my car radio and pickup calls by pressing a button on my car radio, the voice is heard through my car.

Posted by Mipam Moudry on January 12, 2010 at 8:01 AM (PDT)

61

What are your thoughts on the Tom Tom GPS Solution? It appears to have integrated charging, GPS and Hands free blutooth, and with the method of choice you can (tape adapter, FM trans or Aux plug) play music through your stereo. It seems it allows you to leave it all hooked up and ready to go after a one time bluetooth sinc and dropping the phone in the cradle. I looked but have not seen any reviews on the site. Apple has it the least expensive I have found for 119.99. I would like to get your opinion before purchasing.

Thanks

Posted by rob on January 19, 2010 at 8:16 AM (PDT)

62

on the 8 to 1 iphone fm adapter
the adapter twistered off and could not find the parts to put back together for it to work could you please send to:Ron Doctor 1 heighe st bel air ,md21014
thank you recommended several customers to you really like

Posted by ron doctor on January 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM (PDT)

63

I JUST INSTALLED A CLARION VX709 IS THE BEST YET CAR STEREO I HAD, NICE 7” TOUCHSCREEN, EXCELENT DVD PLAYBACK AND LOADED OF FEATURES, WORKS PERFECT WITH IPHONE AND IPOD’S, VIA BLUETOOTH IT PLAYS BOTH AUDIO AND VIDEO PROM IPHONE AND USING THE VOICE ACTIVATED FROM YOUR PHONE YOU CAN PLACE CALLS OR USE THE TOUCH SCREEN DIALS IT ALSO HAVE A USB CABLE AND CAN PLAY MOST FORMATS FOR AUDIO AND VIDEO.

Posted by zorro on April 3, 2010 at 8:04 PM (PDT)

64

Is there a way to get your Iphone contact through bluetooth on a kenwood KDC-BT945U. Car stereo

Posted by stefanie on April 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM (PDT)

65

This could be far beyond easyer if Apple unblock them all bluetooth capabilities of Iphones. I’m right about this issue?

It’s true that this issue will be corrected at the end of this year?

Posted by Raul Angel on April 22, 2010 at 8:02 AM (PDT)

66

or just get bluetooth and dont bother with any wires or bad sound quality

Posted by sss on June 10, 2010 at 6:53 AM (PDT)

67

I have the same problem but dont understand the solutions, my iphone work perfectly as a phone through my bluetooth carkit, however the ipod on iphone does not play.  I tried a bluetooth transmitter but as carkit is already bonded to phone it will not connect to a different device as well.  NB tried debonding and just using transmitter but still no luck, is there no simple solution?

Posted by AHarrison on June 20, 2010 at 11:28 AM (PDT)

68

I wish I had the money for the clean bluetooth install, but I had to go the FM way. I really wanted a dashboard mount though since I drive stick and does mounts in the cigarette adapter get in the way. I ended up getting the bluerock musiktalk and so far its been working great. Thanks for the great guide! Can anyone suggest the best custom bluetooth install?

Posted by James on October 14, 2010 at 8:38 AM (PDT)

69

This is NOT well thought out advice. Use of an FM transmitter is incredibly redundant. The best solution would involve a preamplifier of some kind to impedance match between the ipod and the car audio amplifier. I think the best solution would be a head unit that would interface with the iphone and allow you to mount the iphone horizontally just like a traditional ‘face’ of a head unit. The iphone could just route audio then directly through to the amplifier… makes sense? yes?

Posted by Jonathan on October 16, 2010 at 6:38 PM (PDT)

70

I used an EgoTalk by Funkwerk.
It allowed A2DP, which the iPhone supports… allowing me to leave my iPhone in my pocket whilst streaming music and answering phone calls.

Posted by Human Groove on October 17, 2010 at 11:10 PM (PDT)

71

To let you know that I think Toyota have done it. I have a new yaris with built in Bluetooth and a Toyota dock. I am able to stream phone calls voice dial number or name end calls last number redial through steering wheel controls. I use tom-tom and can ply music at the same time or call (although this is more to do with apple and multitasking) I am able to play music and use steering wheel controls for music I can mute and stop playing music too. The dock charges except when you hve headlights on (hey it can’t all be perfect). Tomtom and music have varying music levels according to instructions. Sometimes though I get messages saying that this accessory is not optimised for iPhone but to be honest if this isn’t optimised God knows what is. It’s expensive though about 500 quid as an extra when I bought the car but it is a great investment. If u r a new car buyer add this as an extra or see if the manufacturers of your car will add their own system in because it’s well worth it.

Just my tuppence

Raf

Posted by RAF on November 1, 2010 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

72

I have a 1997 Lexus with a built in phone
with controls on the steering wheel
The built in phone has a regular wall jack outlet.
Can I connect my IPhone to the jack and use my I phone thru the cars phone system?

Posted by Daryl Turner on December 23, 2010 at 2:05 PM (PDT)

73

Bought Venturi mini works great with my iphone 3Gs.Charges the phone while , uses A2dp to stream the music and good quality hands free . Would recommend the product for any one looking to buy handsfree car kit for their iphone.

Posted by nitesh on January 7, 2011 at 12:04 AM (PDT)

74

Addition to above post - it connects to the iPhone dock connector via a 6’ cable - very handy. It also has a stereo RCA input (switchable on the head unit) for other audio sources.

Posted by nitesh on January 7, 2011 at 12:06 AM (PDT)

75

hi guys

i’ve been working on a solution to control my iphone from an external touch screen monitor (specifically for use in my car), i found this thread and thought i’d post my youtube video here. As far as i can see nobody has achieved anything like this before

please search for ‘Control your iPhone/iPod from another touch screen monitor’ on youtube and my video will be top

please be aware that this is my first test and is in preliminary stages. my next video will be when i have this set up in my car.

if you have any questions please comment on the video or leave a message on this comments board and i’ll get back to you

thanks guys! Simon

Posted by Simon on January 12, 2011 at 2:49 PM (PDT)

76

my i phone not work properly what to do?
================

Posted by auto auctions on June 11, 2011 at 12:59 AM (PDT)

77

Dual XML8100 plus bluetooth works great…

Posted by jimmer on December 3, 2011 at 1:24 PM (PDT)

78

Seems like a lot of work, effort and expense when there is a much simpler solution out there. 

I have two words for you…Jabra Freeway ($129).  Outstanding bluetooth device that does EVERYTHING and more that you describe in your “Optimal Solution”, and yes allows you to stream music from your iPhone through your car speakers too.  If you want to add cradle/charger for your iPhone as well, so you have “head’s up” iPhone navigation, then simply purchase the Griffin Tune Flex, holds your iPhone securely and plugs right into your cigarette lighter port.  Simple, clean, no wires, and you get three speaker sound quality from the Jabra Freeway. 

Might want to broaden your tech scope if you’re offering “expert advice” here on the web.  Just my humble opinion.

Posted by B Smith on December 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM (PDT)

79

B Smith, you do realize that the Jabra Freeway was introduced 8 months ago, while this article was written close to 4 years ago, right? Pardon the writer for not being able to see into the future.

Posted by Seth on December 25, 2011 at 7:05 AM (PDT)

80

In car crystal ball integration will be reviewed soon…

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM (PDT)

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