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Alpine Builds More Bridges To Smartphones


Alpine is building more bridges between
its aftermarket car head units and smartphones, including
Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

The advances come on top of an expanded selection of
OE-look A/V-navigation systems, the latest of which features
the first aftermarket nav system with 8-inch screen.
The $1,499 nav system is packaged with Perfect FIT (Factory
Integration Technology) installation kits that include
dash panels to deliver an OE-look installation in 10 vehicle

To improve connectivity to smartphones, the company
launched its first six head units to combine Bluetooth’s
serial port profile (SPP) and Pandora’s communications
protocol to wirelessly control a Pandora Internet radio app
running on a BlackBerry or Android smartphone. Via Bluetooth
SPP, the head controls such Pandora functions as
play/pause, skip, thumbs up/down, channel selection and
station creation. The feature starts at $189.

To go with the feature, Alpine added stereo Bluetooth
to 10 head units this year, having not offered that feature
at all in the 2011 line.

In another change, the company added USB 2.0 technology
to all of its USB-equipped head units, enabling
head-unit navigation of music stored on USB-connected
Android phones by song, artist, album, playlist, genre and
composer. In previous Alpine heads, consumers were
able to navigate Android phone-stored music only by file
folder and song up/down, said product promotion manager
Steve Brown.

In August, Alpine will offer updates to its A/V-multimedia
head units and A/V-navigation units to enable head-unit
control of such iPhone-stored apps as Netflix, Stitcher,
YouTube and more, Brown added.

Other changes coming to the 2012 line include the expansion
of embedded HD Radio tuners to six head units
from last year’s one, all with iTunes tagging. The A/V and
A/V-nav units will display cover art, album information
and other graphics transmitted by HD Radio stations that
transmit the information. The head units also feature proprietary
Smart Reception Management, which locks onto
an HD2 or HD 3 channels so that, when the digital signal
is lost momentarily, the radio won’t switch automatically to
the station’s main HD channels, Brown said. As with satellite
radio, consumers would hear silence until the HD2 or
HD3 signal is picked up again.

In other enhancements, the company expanded its selection
of head units with dedicated port for connecting
SiriusXM’s hideaway universal tuner to five from two. The
port will work with SiriusXM’s planned second-generation
universal tuner, the $79-suggested SXV200 SiriusXM
Connect Vehicle Tuner. The tuner, due in the spring, adds
the expanded channel lineup of the broadcaster’s 2.0 satellite

In another line change, Alpine improved its Bluetooth
implementation to allow for Secure Simple Pairing, enabling
one-touch first-time pairing with a cellphone, making
it unnecessary to input a PIN code. The company has
also added enhancements to improve Bluetooth handsfree
and stereo streaming sound quality.