These days motorists have a variety of options open to them when it comes to using their smartphones with their cars. With the recent launch of Apple’s CarPlay system, it got me thinking. What do people without an iPhone use for car connectivity?
It turns out that a coalition of car makers and tech companies are working on something called MirrorLink. In a nutshell, it’s a way to use many of your smartphone’s functions with your car’s infotainment system.
So, if you are looking for a way to connect your smartphone to your car, which option should you go for? In today’s blog post, I discuss both options to help you decide.
If you are the proud owner of an Apple iPhone 5 or newer, it will make sense to use CarPlay. The thing about CarPlay is that it only works with iPhone handsets and nothing else. So, if you own an Android device, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, you’re screwed.
Apple has a reputation for developing proprietary technology. Macs, for example, cannot run Windows applications without a copy of Windows installed on them first. Of course, if you have an iPhone, you may as well use a system developed by the manufacturer.
CarPlay lets you make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and play music. It also offers satellite navigation and a whole heap of other functions.
MirrorLink uses a set of standard Internet technologies such as IP. These technologies connect smartphones to infotainment systems.
That means you have the choice of using a variety of compatible smartphones. Whereas with CarPlay, you are only limited to the iPhone handset. MirrorLink got set up in collaboration with a few car makers and tech companies.
As you might have guessed, Apple is not part of this happy union. Instead, they prefer to go it alone. Many of today’s cars feature MirrorLink. And the great thing about this system is it can do most of what the iPhone and CarPlay can do.
Workarounds for incompatibility
As it stands, for now iPhone users can only use CarPlay. And non-iPhone users can only use MirrorLink. There is no chance of CarPlay supporting handsets from other smartphone makers. In the future, MirrorLink will support iPhone handsets – irrespective of Apple’s participation.
There are a few workarounds that you can use until a system like MirrorLink supports all popular brands of smartphone.
If you only want to listen to music, you can always connect your smartphone to your car’s 3.5mm jack or USB port. And if your infotainment system supports “standard” Bluetooth connections, you can use that too.
Saxton 4×4 pointed out that you could also buy an FM transmitter to use in your car. Although few people use this option as it’s not always reliable. Another option is to replace your head unit (infotainment system) with a model that can support your smartphone.
Quite often, that means buying an aftermarket head unit from a brand like Pioneer or Alpine.