The iPhone controller is the $269-suggested Next GATE, which plugs into a car's power port for power, connects to an iPhone 4 or 4S via the phone's 30-pin connector, mounts on the windshield of any vehicle, and plays back audio through an embedded speaker or through any car stereo system with 3.5mm aux in jack. The device also charges connected iPhones, doubles as a hands-free Bluetooth speakerphone, and enables voice dialing and voice activation of iPhone features.
Next GATE, unveiled on the eve of the CTIA convention, will be available June 1 at Crutchfield, Amazon and
other national retailers to be announced.
Next GATE requires the installation of Clarion's Smart Access app manager on an iPhone. That app, available as a free download in the iTunes store, manages iPhone communications with Next GATE and enables compatible third-party iPhone-downloaded apps to be displayed on, and controlled from, Next Gate. Compatible apps include the TuneIn and Pandora Internet radio apps, INRIX Traffic, Odyssey turn-by-turn navigation app, and Vlingo. Additional compatible apps are planned. Users would be notified of new apps when they launch the Smart Access app manager, which would also list all compatible apps available for download.
Vlingo is a voice-recognition app with speech-to-text capabilities, enabling Next GATE to read aloud text messages, emails, social-media feeds and news feeds. Vlingo also enables users to make phone calls via speech recognition.
TuneIn accesses more than 50,000 Internet radio stations, including music, sports, news and current events such as the Daytona 500. Pandora delivers customized music channels. And Odyssey provides turn-by-turn navigation with full screen maps and graphics appearing on the Next GATE display. INRIX Traffic delivers real time traffic information displayed on maps.
Other Next GATE features include microSD slot for software updates, built-in speaker and microphone, and connection to an optional external microphone.
In detailing its telematics plans, Clarion said it will launch its Smart Access Cloud Telematics Service in June in North America and Japan and roll it out elsewhere in stages. The service will work with new OEM infotainment systems and car-aftermarket products.
The telematics service will enable dashboard control of smartphone apps, enable emergency calling, and deliver real-time information from a variety of sources, including FM RDS, satellite radio, or HD Radio. For automakers and potentially for aftermarket products that integrate with a vehicle's OEM databus, the services will also include vehicle relational management system (VRMS) services for vehicle maintenance and safety management, Clarion said.