The iPod is now the iconic portable media player and there are many ways to use it in the car.
Whether a Nano, classic, touch or iPhone invariably it can be made to work with either the car manufactures fitted audio system or a aftermarket unit to include charging. We have a wide variety of interfaces that allow the iPod to connect in, normally via the CD changer port. In many cases this will allow you to track up and down on the iPod from the forward/back buttons including the steering wheel controls (if fitted) and give some control of playlists, artists, albums, Etc (VW, Ford, Etc). Some cars will also show text information on the stereo or the display (Audi in the red info panel between the rev counter and speedo, and some Citroens and Peugeot).
On cars with factory fitted navigation systems or a screen type display such as Mercedes COMAND, Porsche PCM, Audi MMI etc text information can be displayed as well as full control of the iPod although some units make this a particularly fiddly function to use.
Many cars have a 3.5mm aux socket to plug a external device into via the headphone socket, a lot of the time in the glove box (Ford, Mercedes) or on the rear of the console in some Range Rovers. We regularly rewire into the rear of these, so no visible wiring with a different lead to charge the iPod and locate the device in a different position. Again there are various brackets, mounts etc available that allow it to be fitted in a accessible place to control music, telephony or on iPhones with a navigation app to see it clearly and pick up GPS reception.
If your car hasn’t any of these options we can still use a high quality FM device that feeds the audio through the tuner. This is a unit that is physically connected in line with the aerial lead and will charge the iPod. Again various mounting options and holders are available. Please don’t confuse this with the modulators that transmit to the stereo which seem to fade, drop out, affect radio reception etc and generally are pretty poor. We haven’t found one yet we’d sell.
iPod Bluetooth Handsfree
Another popular option is a unit that combines control of the iPod with Bluetooth handsfree for the phone, the most popular being the Parrot MKI range. The 9200 has a display that shows the iPod information, artists, albums, playlists, etc as well as the phone book, missed calls etc and is controlled including dialing, answering and ending calls via a separate remote that can be mounted on the steering wheel or any accessible location. Also on some cars we can connect the kit to steering wheel buttons to replace the remote and hence control volume, music selection, phone management etc.This is a universal product that will fit lots of cars etc, however there are compatibility issues on vehicles with amplified hifi systems (Bose, Harman Kardon, Volvo premium, etc) and/or the control unit away from the stereo. (various Audi’s BMW,Volvo)
If practical it is often worth changing the stereo for something that has a aux in on the front or with a separate lead to plug into the iPod. This has the big advantage of upgrading the sound on all sources and gives a straight forward route to add upgrades such as subwoofers. With the lead the iPod can be hidden in say a glove box or pocket and would normally give full control of artists, albums, playlists, etc. Most now allow to search by alphabet and display comprehensive text information. Options include Bluetooth, music streaming, displays for album art, displays to match the dash illumination colour, steering wheel controls and so on.
Mobile Media Player Integration
And it isn’t just iPods and iPhones. There are many more devices that are now able to play back through your car audio system. Its possible to successfully integrate these devices to both aftermarket and factory audio systems with outstanding results and increased convenience.