By Sound Connection Inc Staff
On August 1st Minnesota joined 23 other states that have a complete ban on handheld devices while driving.
The new Hands Free laws going into effect all across the country made a large impact in the mobile electronics industry and were the topic of numerous discussions over the last few years. The discussions focused around how to make it easier and safer to use your phone without being distracted because, let’s face it, we are all addicted to technology and our phones in particular. Bluetooth has been around long enough that almost anyone not living under a rock is familiar with it and it’s purpose. The first vehicle equipped with factory Bluetooth was released in 1999 which puts it at 20 years ago now. That was 8 years before the iPhone was even released. Bluetooth was a game changer back then. Moving back to this century, the Apple and Android organizations knew the new Hands Free law was coming long before we did and began working on integrating their respective systems into vehicles for years, both on the OEM and aftermarket side. With that came the advent of Apple Car Play and Android Auto. The basics of these systems allows you to plug (or even wirelessly in some cases now) your phone into your cars touchscreen radio and VOILA!
Your radio basically becomes your phone with matching user interfaces and icons. It really couldn’t be any simpler. You can now control your radio as you would your phone and you don’t have to learn a new operating system just to play your favorite music. You can use Siri or Google as you see fit and access your phone, messages, GPS and other useful apps while in the vehicle. And everything is operating HANDS FREE! The voice activation lets you send messages, make phone calls, set reminders, send emails, get directions, search music, play podcasts and so much more. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are becoming commonplace now if you purchase a new vehicle. But what if you have a vehicle made prior to the introduction of Apple Car Play, Android Auto or even Bluetooth? That is when you need to turn to your local mobile electronics specialist.
Companies such as Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony and more are offering new car receivers that offer up Apple Car Play, Android Auto and of course Bluetooth. New Bluetooth receivers can be purchased for under $100 and most Apple Car Play and Android Auto units start around the $350 range. I was recently driving a 2015 GMC Sierra as a loaner vehicle while my truck (which happens to have a Pioneer unit with Apple Car Play) was in the shop to be fixed. Even though the truck was only a few years old and had all the newest comforts such as full touch screen radio, GPS, heated steering wheel, air conditioned seats, lane departure system and other gizmos and gadgets, I felt that I was back in the stone age without my Apple Car Play. I didn’t have quick intuitive access to my text messages or phone calls and most of all I missed my Spotify, Stitcher and Google Maps.
If you haven’t had the opportunity (dare I say privilege) of driving a vehicle with Apple Car Play or Android Auto you really have no idea how it will change your life. Make sure to go to your nearest mobile electronics specialty store to see for yourself.