I wanted to first start by saying thank you to those who responded to my first article; I always enjoy hearing from our customers. Please continue to let us know how you use your iPhone in the car.
Now, on to more iPhone-compatible solutions in the car. Today, I want to cover the AUX/Cassette/Adaptor/FM Transmitters. As I said last time, AUX doesn’t allow for hands-free, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a great option for music enthusiasts. I also may have found a trick that works to adapt your AUX-enabled car with Bluetooth. And finally, those FM Transmitters, with which most of us have had a love-hate relationship.
The AUX, easily one of the greatest and most versatile features car companies have utilized during the digital music era, doesn’t require you have an Apple, Android, Windows or whatever device but rather a female 1/8-inch hole. Even one of those awesome portable CD players you have would work. The easiest way to know if your car has AUX is if it has a button on your radio. Then, it’s just a matter of finding where they hide the actual port (could be in the glove box, center console etc.). We sell some great AUX cables in a variety of lengths (1ft, 3ft, and 6ft), from StarTech, which all have a slim input to accommodate your case. But alas, you can’t speak through an AUX input…or can you?
In comes the Outdoor Tech Adapt. Scott (part of our awesome IT department) and I tested this one out. We simply plugged the Adapt into the AUX port in my car. The Adapt is a Bluetooth headphone adapter allowing for play/pause, volume up/down, and back/next functions, as well as a mic for calls. Spotify came through right away and sounded great — I even placed a call and sure enough, they said they could hear me. Holding the play/pause, answer/hang up button activated Siri, allowing me to text hands-free as well.
For those of you with AUX ports and no Bluetooth, you must check out the Outdoor Tech Adapt. We also carry two great AUX stands: Griffin’s Tune Flex and Belkin’s TuneBase AUX Hands-Free. I’m partial to the Belkin model, as it has lightning charger built-in and creates a great stand for the iPhone 5/5s/5c.
Now, briefly a look at the Griffin Direct Deck. Yes, this is actually a cassette adapter. Great for classic cars that still have a cassette deck and are keeping the stock look or for the pickup that it’s just not worth upgrading the stereo in. Either way, this is a great piece of technology. Simply slide the DirectDeck in, and plug the 1/8th jack into your phone. In doing so, you’ll notice the great feature of the direct deck is it has a mic built-in to the 1/8th inch connection. This allows you to take calls while using the cassette adapter. That’s right, you’re pumping jams from a streaming service like Pandora through a cassette player and placing and receiving calls. And they thought the cassette was dead!
I still remember the first FM transmitter we produced and I used — the CarTune. It was a great product with a simple design plugged into the power port and connected to my iPod via 30-pin connector. It was nice if you lived here in rural Vermont where we have a number of open FM stations to choose from. However, this was a little tougher on my first trip to Boston. I look back and realized it was more dangerous than helpful as I kept changing the CarTune FM dial to find a station that would work.
These have come a long way, and most recently Belkin released the new Lightning TuneBase Hands-Free FM with ClearCast. This FM Transmitter goes above and beyond my old CarTune. It has a sturdy stand which docks your iPhone with Lightning connector allowing it to charge and accommodates for either portrait or landscape view if you’re using Maps, which I found to be very useful. The base, which plugs into the car charging port, has the FM tuner function built-in, so that you can use ClearCast and find the best FM station to broadcast over. Unlike other FM transmitters, this one allows for easy hands-free calling. A large button at the bottom of the phone lets you answer and hang up calls and activate Siri. Check it out.
As always, I hope this information was helpful and continue to encourage you to reach out to me with your solutions for hands-free iPhone connectivity.