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Aftermarket Building More Smartphone, Cloud Connections

NEW YORK – Aftermarket car electronics suppliers will build new and improved bridges between aftermarket head units and smartphones, factory electronics systems, and the Cloud at next month’s International CES.

Select suppliers will also expand their selection of marine audio gear at the show.

In smartphone-connectivity developments, dealers will find a greater selection of head units that control the music, contact and calendar functions of a USBconnected iPhone, control select iPhone apps, and display the content of those apps. At least one other supplier will expand its selection of heads that control USB-connected iPhone apps and display their content. Another company will expand the selection of iPhones apps that can be controlled from and displayed via USB, and it will expand the number of app functions that can be controlled..

Suppliers will also expand the selection of head units with the ability to control the music, contacts and calendar functions of connected Android phones, control select Android apps, and display the apps’ content.

Connections between factory systems and aftermarket heads will tighten with the launch of head units that display vehicle diagnostics and control factory climate-control systems in select vehicles.

In other smartphone-connectivity developments:

• At least two companies, including Kenwood, will unveil head units that read Facebook updates out loud through text-to-speech conversion.

• Kenwood will display its first two head units that use text-to-speech conversion to read not just Facebook updates but also Twitter updates, RSS feeds and personal email via a Wi-Fi-connection to a smartphone, which would access the company’s Cloud server. The server will also deliver services such as Inrix traffic and weather.

• Control of an iPhone’s Siri voice-control feature will be integrated into head units equipped with hands-free Bluetooth and into OEM-integration kits equipped with Bluetooth hands-free and stereo Bluetooth.

• At least one more supplier will add the ability to select music stored on a USB-connected Android phone by artist, title and genre, and at least one other company will expand that feature to more head units.

• At least one company will add the ability to select songs on USB-connected Android phones by file folder and file name.

• At least two companies will expand the range of head units that control Pandora on a USB-connected iPhone, and one brand will add the feature for the first time.

• Bluetooth control of an Android phone’s Pandora app will appear on a greater selection of heads from at least three suppliers.

• Control of the iHeart app via Bluetooth or USB will spread to more head units. In other developments:

• Dealers will find a few more head units with MirrorLink, an industry-standardized technology that enables aftermarket and OEM touchscreens to control, and stream content from, MirrorLink-compatible smartphones via an onscreen interface, which is the same from car to car and head unit to head unit. The interfaces of different brands of smartphones will be similar but not exactly the same.

• At least two more suppliers will show head units with Mobile High-definition Link (MHL), enabling users to connect an MHL-enabled smartphone, charge it, and view smartphone video on the head unit. • Connections to SiriusXM’s universal tuner will appear in more head units from more brands.