By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAS VEGAS — Sony is expanding its selection of CD receivers that use USB-connected iPhones and Bluetooth-connected Android phones as touchscreen remotes and supplementary head-unit displays that can be mounted on top of a dashboard.
The technology, called App Remote, also expands head-unit control of a connected smartphone’s music-playback functions and enables head units to launch smartphone apps.
The technology appeared for the first time in five single-DIN CD receivers shipped last October and November. At Sony’s car audio booth, the technology is appearing for the first time in a double-DIN CD receiver due in March, the $200-everyday WX-GT90BT.
The new App Remote-capable head, like the previous models, must be used with Sony’s App Remote app for Android and iPhones. Once downloaded to the phones, the apps turn connected smartphones into touchscreen remotes to select sources such as AM/FM, CD, USB and aux in. Both apps also deliver gesture control, so when the phone is flicked horizontally, the next or previous track on a phone is selected, and a vertical flick selects the next or previous album.
In turning a connected Android and iPhone smartphone into a supplemental music display, the apps help compensate for the limitations of small head-unit displays. The connected smartphones display artist/ song information as well as music cover art when their native music player or musicstreaming apps are launched.
The Android version of the app also converts a phone’s text messages to voice; and expands a head unit’s wireless Bluetooth control of smartphone-stored music beyond track up/down, play/pause and fast-forward/ rewind to include the selection of stored music by title, artist, album, and genre.
For USB-connected iPhones, the iPhone version of the app enables head-unit control of multiple functions of more than 100 music-streaming apps, whereas otherbrand head units control only a handful of music-streaming apps on USB-connected iPhones, Sony said.
With the apps, users are also able to launch any Android app from the head units. Android phones must be connected to the head units via Bluetooth, while iPhones must be connected to the head units’ USB port.
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