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JVC Steps Up iPhone, Android App Control

LAS VEGAS – JVC Mobile’s 19 car audio head unit introductions include the company’s first two multimedia receivers with HDMI inputs to deliver in-dash touch-screen control of select compatible apps on newer iPhones and MHL-enabled Android smartphones.

The company is also launching its first marine digital media receiver (DMR) in years and introducing its first three head units with lossless FLAC playback.

In other changes, the company is dropping Mirror- Link, which controls select apps on a limited number of smartphones, and bringing dual-zone video to its entire selection of seven multimedia head units for the first time, up from one SKU.

The company is also expanding advanced iHeart/ Pandora control capabilities to many more head units. To all head units equipped with iPhone USB and Bluetooth, JVC is incorporating control of almost all functions of the iHeart and Pandora apps running on USB-connected iPhones and Bluetooth-connected Android phones. All of those heads also display iHeart and Pandora album art.

Here’s what the company is launching in specific product segments:

In multimedia receivers: JVC is turning over its entire multimedia lineup, which consists of five models in its mainstream series and two Arsenal-brand heads sold exclusively to 12-volt specialists.

Two of the multimedia heads, the mainstream-series $549-suggested KW-V30BT and $649 KW-V50BT, are the company’s first heads with HDMI inputs, which are also Mobile High-definition Link (MHL)-enabled.

HDMI inputs enable the two touchscreen-equipped head units to display the GUI and video of 22 compatible Apple apps, including navigation and Internet radio, on an iPhone 5 and likely on the iPhone 5s and 5c equipped with digital-only Lightning connector, the company said at press time. Head-unit commands to control most app functions travel over Bluetooth from the heads to the Apple and Android smartphones.

The control and display capabilities, collectively known as App Link Mode 2, also extend for the first time to Android phones equipped with MHL-enabled MicroUSB outputs. An unspecified number of Android apps are compatible.

The two heads also display and control the phones’ music libraries, contacts and possibly the phones’ calendars as well, a spokesman said.

For use with the newer iPhones and the Android phones, adapter cables are required.

Like the six multimedia heads in the 2013 line, the two HDMI-equipped multimedia heads control compatible apps on the iPhone 4 and 4S connected via Apple’s USB-to-30-pin cable and via a composite-video cable.

The company’s five other new multimedia heads for 2014 also deliver App Link Mode touchscreen control of compatible iPhone 4 and 4S apps.

In the 2013 lineup, the company offered two head units with MHL, but those heads only displayed video from a cable-connected MHL-enabled phone.

AppLink Mode heads also provide text-to-speech conversion and other driver-safety features when used with compatible apps.

JVC offered in 2013 two multimedia head units with MirrorLink to enable head-unit touchscreen control of key features of a select number of MirrorLink-enabled smartphones. The company is dropping MirrorLink, however, because the technology hasn’t spread to more phones, said national product supervisor Jacob Hardin. Almost 90 phones worldwide, in contrast, featured MHL as of mid-2013, including multiple Samsung, HTC, LG models available in the U.S., the company said.

All of the multimedia head units ship in January with 6.1- and 7-inch screens. Prices were unavailable. All of the heads also add dual-zone video.

In digital media receivers JVC is expanding its selection to three models from two, including its first marine DMR is about seven years.

All three are the brand’s first to play back FLAC audio files, and all three feature a chassis that’s 30 percent shorter than the chassis of CD receivers. Only one DMR in the 2013 line had a short chassis, which enables installation in the shallow dashes of ATV and UTVs.

The DMRs also feature MP3/WMA/WAV playback, front iPod/iPhone/USB, digital track expander to improve the quality of compressed music, RBDS, three-band parametric EQ, and control of most Pandora and iHeartRadio functions on a USB-connected iPhone.

The step-up car model adds, among other things, built-in Bluetooth, full Pandora and iHeartRadio control of most Pandora and iHeart functions on Bluetooth- connected Android phones, Siri Eyes Free, and voice control of voice-enabled Android phones, which on most Android phones activates Google Assistant. The head unit can be used with Bluetooth-connected Android phones equipped with a JVC app, which enables the user to select Android-stored music by title, artist, album and genre and stream the songs via Bluetooth to the head for playback.

The marine model tops out the line and adds water resistance as well as wireless remote and optional wired remote.

The marine DMR ships in February following January shipments of the other two. Prices were unavailable.

Two new double-DIN CD models will join two step-up carryover models in the mainstream series. The new models will be priced lower than the $149 and $199 price points of their predecessors and offer mostly cosmetic changes. The new entry-level model features iPod/iPhone USB and is Bluetooth- ready. The other new model adds Bluetooth, control of Pandora and iHeart on USB-connected iPhones and Bluetooth-connected Android phones, and selection of Android-phone-stored songs by title, artist, album and genre when used with a JVC app running on an Android phone switched to mass-storage mode.

In single-DIN CD, four new models will join one carryover model in the mainstream series, and three new Arsenal models will join one carryover Arsenal model. The opening price point remains at $69. New features haven’t trickled into the lineup.

In other changes, JVC dropped the ability of head units to select Android-phone-stored songs by title, artist, album and genre when the phone is switched to mass storage mode, connected via USB, and used with a free JVC app.

The capability has been eliminated to maintain price competitiveness in light of the addition of full iHeart control and maintenance of full Pandora control to all heads but one, said Hardin.

In other changes, the company is offering six fewer HD Radio heads to reduce the selection to four, and it will offer four or five fewer SKUs with a SiriusXM port.