By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Torrance, Calif. – Alpine plans April shipments of its first in-dash head unit with MirrorLink, which enables control of a smartphones’ core functions from touchscreen-equipped in-dash aftermarket and OEM head units.
The first widely available smartphones compatible with the technology and available in the U.S. are Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II Android phones. Samsung just launched its DriveLink app for the two smartphones, enabling MirrorLink control from compatible head units. Nokia also offers a MirrorLink app for its Symbian-based smartphones, but those phones are not widely available in the U.S.
Other companies with MirrorLink-compatible head units include Sony and JVC. Sony already offers two MirrorLink-enabled multimedia receivers, and JVC is shipping one, with two more to come.
The on-screen interface of each brand of MirrorLink smartphone looks the same from car to car. MirrorLink-compatible heads control a compatible phone’s calling, music, and location-based functions, including playback and control of stored music and music apps, voice-calling functions, display of phone contacts, album art display, and control and display of location-based features such as Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation, accessing Google Street View, and choosing other Google location options. The interfaces were designed to be driver-friendly.
Alpine’s MirrorLink head unit is the ICS-X7HD, priced at an expected everyday $599. The mechless A/V receiver features 7-inch WVGA touchscreen, HD Radio, stereo Bluetooth, Made for iPod/iPhone USB port, Pandora internet radio control via an iPhone or Android smartphone, and access through an iPhone of Harman’s Aha cloud-based infotainment service. Aha, designed for OEM and aftermarket radios, delivers multiple Internet radio services and podcast services to the car. The ICS-X7HD is Alpine’s first head unit with Aha compatibility.
The SiriusXM-Ready head unit also delivers hands-free Bluetooth control of an iPhone’s Siri voice-control function.
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