Sony Introduces New Aftermarket CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free Systems

Sony today introduced its new XAV-AX200 in-car audio receiver, which doubles as an aftermarket CarPlay system.

Sony's previous-generation XAV-AX100 receiver

The double-DIN XAV-AX200 has a 6.4-inch touchscreen, but Sony didn't specify if its capacitive, or resistive like its XAV-AX100 predecessor.

Other key features include both CarPlay and Android Auto support, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio compatibility, a built-in four-channel amplifier, three external camera inputs, and a built-in DVD player.

Sony also unveiled a MEX-GS820BT receiver that can pair with two smartphones at once via Bluetooth. It doesn't appear to support CarPlay, but it does feature Siri Eyes Free, and similar voice controls on Android smartphones. Sony said the unit has a high-contrast vertical-alignment LCD of an unspecified size.

Siri Eyes Free helps minimize driver distraction with Siri voice recognition, allowing drivers to interact with an iPhone 4s or later without needing to look at the in-dash screen. The feature can be used to make calls, play music, hear and compose text messages, read notifications, use Apple Maps, and more.

Sony said the XAV-AX200 and MEX-GS820BT will be available across North America by the end of the year. Pricing wasn't disclosed. The older XAV-AX100 generally retails for between $499 and $549 in the United States.

Sony's press release did not include pictures, and the company didn't respond when we requested them directly.

Other aftermarket CarPlay systems are available from Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, JBL, JVC, Pioneer, Sony, and other manufacturers.

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Tags: Sony, Siri Eyes Free

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Volvo’s New VNL Series Semi Trucks Include CarPlay Support

Volvo Trucks today unveiled its new line of VNL long-haul semi trucks, which come equipped with CarPlay and several other comfort-oriented technologies.

Designed for professional drivers who travel over long distances, the VNL series trucks include what Volvo says is an "all-new" dashboard with a 5-inch color display that offers up trip and diagnostic data plus a 7-inch color touchscreen that supports CarPlay, a backup camera, and navigation features.


With CarPlay support, drivers are able to access their music, incoming phone calls, messages, and other content safely through a direct connection with the iPhone. Along with the touchscreen, CarPlay controls can be accessed through a smart steering wheel that puts controls for nearly all interface functions right at a driver's fingertips.

CarPlay is just one of the many driver perks built into the truck, which also includes an adjustable steering column, ergonomic seats with heating and ventilation, and sleeper cabs with a reclining bunk.


The VNL trucks come in a range of configurations, including a new 70-inch sleeper in Volvo VNL 760 and 740 models.

Though CarPlay was first officially unveiled in March of 2014, wide availability of the feature didn't come until mid-2015. Since then, hundreds of manufacturers have built CarPlay support into their vehicles, and many aftermarket solutions have been made available. Apple maintains a list of vehicles that support CarPlay on its website.

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Alpine Debuts First Aftermarket Wireless CarPlay Receiver

Alpine today announced the launch of its latest CarPlay receiver, the iLX-107. While Alpine has released several CarPlay receivers in the past, and, the iLX-107 is unique because it is the first aftermarket CarPlay receiver that comes equipped with support for wireless connectivity.

The iLX-107 features a 7-inch VGA display with a capacitive touch screen, a shallow, mech-less body that allows it to fit into most vehicles, support for a range of accessories, and integration with steering wheel controls and a rear view camera.


According to Alpine, connecting an iPhone to the iLX-107 is simple, with just a few setup steps involved. The system uses 5GHz WiFi to connect to an iPhone when in the car.
The iLX-107 gives you the luxury of simply getting and going. It allows you to seamlessly access your iPhone on your vehicle's touchscreen without having to connect a cable every time you get in. Set up is as easy as pairing the wireless Apple CarPlay unit from your iPhone or simply connecting the lightning cable for the first time. Once you go through the extremely easy initial set up, the iLX-107 will automatically connect to the most frequently paired iPhone each time the vehicle is started. The connection "just works" and allows you to get in the car and go without having to stop to take your phone out of your purse or pocket.
Wireless CarPlay functionality was first introduced in 2015, but no wireless infotainment system was available until late 2016, when it was added to the 2017 BMW 5 Series Sedan. Most CarPlay systems, both native and aftermarket, require users to connect an iPhone to a vehicle using a Lightning cable that plugs into a standard USB port.

Alpine is pricing the iLX-107 at $900, making it one of the company's more expensive receivers. It is available starting today at dealers across the country, with Alpine offering a tool on its website to locate a dealer that can install the system.

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Ford Brings CarPlay to 2016 Vehicles With SYNC 3 Update

Ford today released a SYNC 3 software update that adds CarPlay and Android Auto support to its 2016 model year vehicles.


Ford said customers with Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles can set up their vehicle to receive the update automatically. SYNC 3 version 2.2 can also be downloaded from the Ford Owner website and installed with a USB drive, or customers can visit any Ford dealership to have the update process completed for free.

Last summer, Ford made CarPlay and Android Auto available in all of its 2017 vehicles with SYNC 3. At the time, it promised it would bring CarPlay and Android Auto to its 2016 model year vehicles by the end of the year, and while it missed that target by about five months, the update has now arrived.

In late 2015, Ford retroactively added Siri Eyes Free support to 5 million 2011-2016 model year vehicles.

CarPlay brings Maps, Phone, Messages, Music, Podcasts, and a number of third-party apps like Spotify to a vehicle's dashboard. Apple's in-car software can be controlled with Siri and a vehicle's built-in controls for convenient access to common iPhone features. It's compatible with iPhone 5 and later.

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Tags: Android Auto, Ford, Ford SYNC

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Pioneer Unveils New Aftermarket CarPlay Receivers, Including First Single-DIN Model For Older Vehicles

Pioneer today unveiled five new NEX in-dash multimedia receivers with CarPlay and Android Auto support, including its first single-DIN model.


The single-DIN AVH-3300NEX is a smaller, more universally sized receiver that can fit into many older and collectible cars. Unlike a double-DIN receiver, which has a built-in display, this single-DIN model features a 7-inch pop out, motorized display. The whole unit is also detachable for added security.

The other four receivers are double-DIN models, including the 7-inch AVH-2330NEX and AVH-2300NEX and 6.2-inch AVH-1330NEX and AVH-1300NEX.

In addition to CarPlay and Android Auto, Pioneer said all five receivers feature Bluetooth for hands-free calling and music streaming, native Spotify and Pandora, a USB port, HD Radio, and SiriusXM compatibility with a tuner sold separately. All models are also backup camera and Pioneer navigation system ready.

The AVH-3300NEX, AVH-2330NEX and AVH-1330NEX also come with a remote control to adjust volume, audio sources, and more.

Pioneer said the new NEX lineup will be available through resellers in July with suggested retail prices of $600 for the single-DIN model, and between $400 and $500 for the double-DIN models, in the United States.

Pioneer's current NEX receivers retail for between $400 and $1,400 in the United States. Competing aftermarket CarPlay systems are available from Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, JVC, JBL, Sony, and other manufacturers.

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Tag: Pioneer

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CarPlay Scores 85% Customer Satisfaction Rate in Limited Study

iPhone owners are largely satisfied with Apple's CarPlay, according to a new report from market research firm Strategy Analytics.


The report is available to Strategy Analytics clients only, but author Chris Schreiner shared some of his findings with MacRumors.

31 percent of users said they were "very satisfied" with CarPlay, while 54 percent said they were "satisfied," for an overall customer satisfaction rate of 85 percent. However, the report only looked at 70 owners of 2016-2017 vehicles with CarPlay installed in the United States, which is a rather small sample size.

43 percent of those users are "very likely" to recommend CarPlay to others, while 37 percent are "likely" to recommend it, said Strategy Analytics. Those with CarPlay were likely to use it for "all or most" of their in-car infotainment needs, often in favor of their vehicle's standard system, according to the report.

70 percent of participants with both CarPlay and a built-in navigation system in their car said they choose CarPlay with Apple Maps most or all of the time over their vehicle's standard system. 59 percent of the people said they use CarPlay for audio needs most or all of the time over their vehicle's radio.

"Given Apple's continued updates to CarPlay enhancing the experience further, and car-makers' inability to do the same along with their long development times, CarPlay is poised to handle the vast majority of consumers' in-vehicle needs," said Schreiner, Director of Syndicated Research at Strategy Analytics.

While customer satisfaction with CarPlay might be strong, Apple's in-car software platform is far from perfect.

Last month, a side-by-side test of CarPlay and Android Auto showed Siri was often unable to properly interpret what the driver was saying, which in one case led Apple Maps to incorrectly navigate him to an address in Tennessee rather than Toronto. Android Auto, meanwhile, interpreted voice commands correctly.

Video courtesy of YouTube channel The Straight Pipes via Daring Fireball

CarPlay continues to improve in other areas. In iOS 10.3, for example, Apple provided drivers with a quicker and safer way to switch between apps without having to take their eyes off the road for long periods of time. Wireless CarPlay is also now available in select BMW models, or with Alpine's aftermarket system.

Apple is also rumored to be working on "enhanced" Siri capabilities for the iPhone, and those improvements would likely extend to CarPlay.

CarPlay is now available in over 200 vehicle models in the United States, enabling drivers to make and receive calls, access text messages, play music, get directions, check traffic conditions, and more with Siri voice commands and on-screen controls. The platform requires an iPhone 5 or newer.

Aftermarket systems are available from brands such as Alpine, Kenwood, and Pioneer for do-it-yourself CarPlay installations.

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Tag: Strategy Analytics

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Aircharge Announces Wireless iPhone Charging Case for BMW iDrive Ecosystem

Aircharge and BMW have teamed up to offer a customized wireless charging case for iPhones to take advantage of the new in-car wireless system that debuted in the BMW 5 Series Sedan earlier this year.

The BMW 5 Series Sedan was one of the first cars to include wireless CarPlay support, allowing iPhones to integrate with the BMW iDrive ecosystem over Bluetooth instead of a Lightning cable. In-car phone wireless charging is also standard in the 6 and 7 series and available as an option on the rest of the range.


Integrating the smartphone into the vehicle's system allows the iPhone to be operated directly via the screen in the car, the iDrive Touch Controller, voice commands or gestures, avoiding potential distractions whilst at the wheel.

Given that heavy usage of apps, navigation and music can drain a battery at the end of a drive, the addition of wireless charging solves this issue by keeping the device fully powered while in operation.

With Apple yet to launch a smartphone with the wireless charging function integrated into its hardware, the German carmaker worked with Aircharge to design the case to add on the capabilities and bring the convenience of wireless charging to BMW owners.

The case features a hard shell to protect the phone and a tactile finish, along with a total black look, and has engraved the BMW Group’s branding on the front and back.

All Aircharge case models carry the official 'Made for iPhone' MFi certification by Apple and are also certified to the global wireless charging standard Qi. The Aircharge case is currently available for iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 5, 5s and SE models and can be purchased through BMW's online retail stores as well as high street shops.

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Tag: BMW

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Scania Announces CarPlay Integration Coming This Summer for Truck Drivers

Swedish truck and bus manufacturer Scania today announced that it will begin introducing Apple's CarPlay system into some of its heavy trucks beginning in June 2017, as well as revealing that some of its older model vehicles will be upgradeable with aftermarket CarPlay infotainment systems. Scania is among the first in the industry to introduce CarPlay into big rig trucks.

Scania trucks that come with a Scania Infotainment System and a voice control option will be able to support CarPlay, which functions by connecting to a nearby Apple iPhone through a USB cable -- or wirelessly in some vehicles -- and displaying relevant iOS information on Scania's 7-inch touch screen. This way, drivers can use Siri, call someone, listen to music, and navigate without being distracted from the road.


Scania believes that CarPlay will be particularly invaluable for truck drivers "who spend a lot of time behind the wheel." The specific Scania truck models that will be getting CarPlay this summer have not yet been announced.
“Scania’s infotainment system will work with Apple CarPlay, the smarter, safer way to use your iPhone while on the move,” says Björn Fahlström, Vice President, Product Management, Scania Trucks. “Apple CarPlay support is being introduced in June 2017, and earlier devices can be updated, provided that they have voice recognition. By intro­ducing this functionality, we will offer even more driver comfort and increased safety. For truck drivers, who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, everything that makes life on the road easier, simpler and safer is very much appreciated.”
Moving forward, the company said that it plans to continue to introduce CarPlay support into more of its trucks "in the near future." For the list of currently available CarPlay vehicles, check out Apple.com.

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Amazon Music iOS App Now Supports CarPlay

Amazon today updated its Amazon Music app for iOS devices to version 6.4.0, adding a small but important new feature: support for CarPlay.

With the latest version of the Amazon Music app, Amazon Music subscribers who own a vehicle equipped with CarPlay can access their music directly through the CarPlay interface when an iPhone is connected to the car.

Amazon Music is available to Amazon Prime subscribers, with two million songs, playlists, and stations included in a membership.

Separate Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions are also available for on-demand listening to "tens of millions" of songs, with pricing starting at $7.99 for Prime members ($9.99 without a Prime subscription). A lower-cost Echo-only plan is also available for $3.99 per month.

Amazon Music can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Tags: Amazon, Amazon Music Unlimited

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Mazda Still Planning to Implement Support for CarPlay

Mazda is planning to add CarPlay and Android Auto support to its lineup of cars and SUVs according to an announcement made at a launch for its upcoming 2017 CX-5 (via Cars.com).

There's no word on when CarPlay will be added to Mazda vehicles, nor is there info on which vehicles will be the first to support CarPlay, but Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown said the feature "should be retroactively upgradeable onto all Mazda Connect systems with a potentially minimal hardware addition needed."


Mazda Connect has been available in Mazda vehicles since 2014, which, coincidentally, is the year that Mazda first pledged support for CarPlay. Mazda has been listed as a CarPlay partner since shortly after CarPlay first debuted, but it has yet to release a CarPlay-compatible vehicle.

For a couple of years after CarPlay was announced, availability was highly limited as it required the cooperation of both automobile makers and third-party hardware companies, but as of late 2015, CarPlay availability has expanded rapidly.

Apple's CarPlay platform is now available in more than 200 2016 and 2017 vehicles from a range of manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and more.

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Tag: Mazda

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