By Lisa Johnston
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As iPhone madness will likely work its way into the automobile, car audio suppliers last week were scrambling to determine if their current CD receivers will work with Apple's new hit wonder.
Most suppliers such as Pioneer, JVC, Sony and Panasonic were still in testing mode at press time but Alpine and Kenwood said many radios tested so far are mostly compatible. The car radios (with appropriate adapters) will allow music playback from the iPhone, will pause and resume music when a call comes in, will control iPhone music functions from the radio, and will display music ID3 tag information on the car radio.
Alpine product promotion manager Steve Brown said, "I would say, 'yes,' this is an easy transition. You are dealing with a phone and an iPod built into one, and we're compatible with both those devices."
There are a few limitations to integrating the iPhone in the car when it comes to video and wireless music streaming.
The iPhone does not allow the streaming of video to another device such as a car video screen. It was unclear at press time if Apple will provide upgrade solutions to enable this feature in the near future.
Additionally, the iPhone cannot stream stereo music wirelessly in A2DP Bluetooth to other devices such as a car radio unless it is used with a special adapter.
Some suppliers also said their products would not work with the iPhone in hands-free calling mode at present, although they expect to upgrade their products in the near future. Under these circumstances, users must place their calls directly from the iPhone. But Parrot and Alpine said their products will currently allow hands-free calling from the iPhone.
Kenwood said all of its changer head units will work with the iPhone to pla back and control music when used with the current Kenwood $50 adapter, the KCA-iP500. The Kenwood units will charge the iPhone and display all text functions on the head unit's screen. When a call comes into the iPhone, the music is paused, and when the user hangs up, the music resumes where it left off, said Kenwood.
There are some exceptions, however. Kenwood offers some models that use a USB interface which is not compatible with the iPhone. For these models, Kenwood is in the process of working on a firmware upgrade, which would render them iPhone-ready, it said.
Alpine confirmed its CDE 9873, CDE 9881 and CDE 9870 CD receivers and its IDA X001 iPod head unit will play back audio from the iPhone, control the iPhone from the head unit and display ID3 tags on the radio's screen. When used with a Bluetooth adapter, the radio is muted when a call comes in, and the user can operate phone functions via the radio in hands-free mode. Alpine noted that its IDA X001 plays audio from the iPhone in the "iPod full speed" mode, but like the Kenwood units, does not at this time allow iPod compatibility through a USB slot. Alpine had not completed testing on other models at press time.
OEM integrators have already addressed some of the limitations of the iPhone.
Scosche announced it will offer an adapter to allow stereo A2DP Bluetooth audio streaming. Scosche's kit will include a transmitter that attaches to the bottom of the iPhone and a Bluetooth receiver that attaches to the OEM radio of most vehicles. The device then streams music from the iPhone to the car's sound system. A second version works with any aftermarket car head unit. Both solutions will be available in September at a suggested retail of $199. A third do-it-yourself version can plug into the cigarette lighter and then attach to a car radio's auxiliary input or A/V output. It will also be available at $199.
Parrot is one of the few suppliers that said its current hands-free Bluetooth kits offer 100 percent functionality with the iPhone, including the automatic transfer of phone contact lists. The compatible kits include the Parrot CK3100 and 3200LS color. Although the iPhone is not A2DP stereo Bluetooth capable, Parrot said its stereo Bluetooth adapter, the MK6000, will stream music from the iPhone if the iPhone is used with a separate A2DP adapter. Parrot said it is continuing to test the remainder of its line.
Blitzsafe said it is already shipping an iLink iPhone adapter at a suggested $70. The iLink allows iPhone audio to play through the car's speakers and to mute when a call comes in. When the call is ended, the music resumes. The kit also charges the iPhone and may be used with vehicles from Audi, BMW, Acura, Honda, Volkswagon, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Scion, Lincoln, Mercury, Mini, Plymouth and some Jaguar and Land Rover models. A General Motors version should be ready within the next 30 days. The iLink will also work with aftermarket radios that have an auxiliary input.
Peripheral said all of its iPod adapters that work with OEM factory radios are compatible with the iPhone including allowing text display and incoming phone calls. Its new universal Gateway device is also iPhone compatible.
DICE kits are also compatible with the iPhone. The company's $199 iPod adapter will allow factory radios to play music from the iPhone, control iPhone functions and charge the iPhone. DICE said the device will pause and resume the music when a call comes in but, users must talk directly into the iPhone as the kit does not support hands free calling. A new DICE kit will be released by the end of the year with hands free capability. DICE kits work with radios from Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Hummer, Lexus, Mazda, Mini Cooper, Pontiac, Scion, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Nav-TV said its iPod integration kit for Mercedes, Porsche and Audi models using the fiber-optic Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) network is fully compatible with the iPhone.
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