Besides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, what Other Connectivity is There for my Car?
Being connected is a big part of today’s society. Everyone’s got a smartphone in their pocket, and it is connected to every part of their life. It’s their music collection, their map, their connection to loved ones.
Harnessing smartphones’ possibilities and power and connecting them to vehicles has led to massive advances in car connectivity. The two most notable over the years have been Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two systems that are now the most-utilized connectivity systems in the automotive world. Even carmakers who have attempted their own connectivity systems have given up, for the most part, adopting these systems. It’s what the drivers want! So, what exactly are they, why are they so popular, and are there other options on the market to improve your vehicle’s connectivity?
What are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay?
These systems allow the car radio display or head unit to be both the display and controller for an Android or Apple phone. It can be brand new, like a Samsung 21 or an iPhone 10, or an older model. For Android Auto, it needs to be Android 5.0 or higher and must be equipped with the Android Auto app downloaded from the Play Store. Samsung and Android phones, as well as tablets like the Samsung Note, are all connectible. For Apple CarPlay, an iPhone 5 or higher, running the iOS 7.1 operating system or higher, is required.
When you have your phone connected through CarPlay or Android Auto, it allows for easy, intuitive, heads-up access to applications and files on your phone. With it being centered on the heads-up screen in your vehicle, both driver and passenger can use it. Instead of focusing on a phone, the driver can utilize the in-dash screen the same way they change channels on the radio or have the passenger use it. This also allows for the use of features including your Apple Music membership, Siri voice control, or even more recently, Amazon Alexa while you are on the go.
Using Your Apple Watch
You can go one further and go beyond the handhelds – your Apple Watch is also connectible, as Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated! This wearable Apple product links with other Apple devices to allow users to access information, messages, music, and more without taking their smartphones out of their pockets. It provides instant information, right on your wrist, for a glance.
The MB Companion App – available for both the Apple Watch and the iPhone – provides seamless links from the smartphone to the watch to the Mercedes-Benz COMAND Online system. This can potentially allow for a wide variety of functions, including:
- Navigation – A user can look for directions on their smartphone even before setting foot in the car. Once they link these directions through the watch, the app will sync with the in-car navigation for driving directions. When the user leaves the car, the directions will revert to the watch, allowing for a seamless transition to walking paths. On top of that, the watch will be able to provide walking directions back to the car, so no worries about forgetting where you parked!
- Information – The driver can access vehicle information through the app, regardless of where they are. This includes fuel levels, current range with fuel, maintenance codes, and the odometer reading. This allows the owner to keep an eye on their vehicle, even if another person uses it.
- Security – This includes locking and unlocking doors, setting the alarm, or even working with the in-car systems in conjunction with teen drivers’ parental controls – all done remotely!
Echo, Alexa, and More!
While Android Auto allows you to access Alexa through your phone, it’s not the only feature that uses this excellent technology. For instance, Garmin Speak Plus with Amazon Alex is discreet and easy to install in any vehicle. If it features Alexa, it can do almost everything you can do through your house-bound Echo station. Or, if you want the Echo as it is, the Amazon Echo Auto is a dongle-like device that plugs into the 12V outlet in your vehicle and provides the shopping lists, news, sports scores, and more that you’re used to getting from your home unit.
Mobile carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon have also gotten into the act of getting into your passenger seat. T-Mobile offers the SyncUp Drive, which plugs in through the onboard diagnostics port to create an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot and access free roadside assistance through Allstate. Hum, from Verizon, is a bit more complex but also more robust. Plugging into the ODB-II port, it also has a Bluetooth speakerphone/controller that attaches to the visor for hands-free use. On top of the usual stuff, Hum also supports using Google Assistant in the vehicle.
It’s not just mobile info, but also mobile payment that is a big deal for drivers these days! SiriusXM and Visa have teamed up and are working on creating a service where you can order pretty much anything you want from your in-dash Sirius system, pay with an attached Visa, and never have to pass cash or card over again. It’s still in the works – getting vendors and services on board – but this is another connectivity feature shortly.
Connectivity and Auto Transport
Here at Number 1 Auto Transport, we use the latest connectivity technology in what we do. Our drivers use these systems to keep on time and track. We always know where your vehicle is, and they help us communicate with the drivers should anything come up during transport. With these connectivity features making life easier for drivers on the road, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they help the Number 1 Auto Transport team provide good, safe, secure service that you can count on!