What’s the Best Way to Integrate Smartphone Controls into Older Vehicle Models?

February 11, 2024

As technology continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly common to see smartphone integration in our everyday vehicles. However, there are still many of us who own older models that aren’t equipped with the latest gadgetry. So, what’s the best method for integrating smartphone controls into these older vehicles? Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to bridge the technological divide, enabling you to make the most out of your trusty ride.

Retrofitting with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay

Perhaps the most straightforward method to integrate smartphone controls into your vehicle is through retrofitting with an Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatible device. Both systems offer a rich array of features, allowing you to control your music, access navigation apps, make and receive calls, and even reply to text messages using voice commands.

The beauty of retrofitting is that it allows you to add modern functionality to your car without needing to purchase a new model. You simply install the device in place of, or alongside, your existing stereo system. Many third-party manufacturers offer units that support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and they’re generally easy to install.

It’s also worth mentioning that both systems have a high degree of compatibility. Android Auto will work with any phone running Android 6.0 or later, while Apple CarPlay is compatible with all iPhones from the 5 upwards. This ensures that the vast majority of smartphone users will be able to take advantage of these systems.

However, it’s critical to ensure that the device you choose is compatible with your vehicle. This is usually as simple as checking the manufacturer’s website for a compatibility list.

Utilizing Uconnect for Seamless Integration

Another top-notch option for integrating smartphone controls into older car models is the Uconnect system. This app-based system offers you a wide variety of features, including hands-free calling, voice command, and music streaming from your smartphone.

The Uconnect system is installed in the dashboard of your vehicle, providing a seamless and aesthetically pleasing solution. It’s paired with your smartphone, enabling you to control a range of apps directly from your vehicle’s screen.

However, it’s worth noting that Uconnect is primarily designed for use with Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat vehicles. Nevertheless, there are app options available for other car brands, which means you’ll likely be able to find a Uconnect solution that fits your vehicle.

Exploring the Power of Google’s Android Automotive

Google’s Android Automotive is another fantastic solution for integrating smartphone controls into your car. Unlike Android Auto, which is simply an app that runs on your phone and mirrors its screen to your car’s display, Android Automotive is a fully-fledged operating system designed for cars.

This means that it offers much deeper integration with your vehicle’s systems. For instance, you can use it to control your car’s air conditioning, view your fuel level, and even check tire pressure. Plus, because it’s powered by Google, it has excellent support for apps. You can use Google Maps for navigation, Spotify for music, and a whole host of other apps from the Google Play store.

Although Android Automotive is still relatively new, it’s quickly gaining traction. More and more car manufacturers are starting to offer it as a standard feature in their latest models. But for those with older cars, several third-party manufacturers offer devices that support Android Automotive. This makes it a viable option for anyone looking to integrate smartphone controls into their vehicle.

The Future of Older Cars and Smartphone Integration

While all these solutions offer exciting possibilities for bringing your older vehicle into the modern age, it’s important to remember that this is a rapidly evolving field. As technology continues to advance, we’re likely to see even more innovative solutions for integrating smartphones with older car models.

For instance, Google, Apple, and other tech giants are constantly improving their automotive offerings, adding new features and increasing compatibility. Similarly, car manufacturers are investing heavily in developing their own connected car platforms and are increasingly looking at ways to retroactively add these systems to older models.

As such, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on the latest developments in this field. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re always at the forefront of automotive technology, no matter how old your car might be. The most important thing is to conduct thorough research and consider your specific needs and budget before making a decision. Remember, the best solution is the one that works for you and your vehicle.

Smart Device Integration with Aftermarket Infotainment Systems

For those wanting to integrate smartphone controls into an older vehicle via a comprehensive solution, aftermarket infotainment systems are a worthy consideration. These systems typically come with a large touch screen that replaces the current head unit or multimedia system in your car.

When shopping for an aftermarket infotainment system, it’s essential to look for ones that support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This compatibility allows for seamless integration between your smartphone and your vehicle. In addition, these systems often incorporate other modern features, such as GPS navigation, USB cable inputs for charging and data transfer, and Bluetooth capability for hands-free calling and audio streaming.

After installation, connecting your phone to the infotainment system involves a simple process. Using a USB cable, connect your phone to the system, and it should automatically recognize your device. Once connected, your phone’s display will be mirrored on the infotainment system’s screen. This mirroring allows you to use apps like Google Maps, Spotify, and your phone’s native calling and messaging apps directly from your car’s dashboard.

This integration doesn’t stop at just making calls and playing music, though. With Google Assistant built into Android Auto, you can use voice commands to send messages, set reminders, and even open your window, all while keeping your hands on the wheel.

One thing to keep in mind when considering an aftermarket infotainment system is the installation process. Depending on the system and your vehicle, professional installation may be required, adding to the overall cost. However, the investment can be well worth it, considering the added convenience and safety of integrating smartphone controls into your vehicle.

Conclusion: Choosing the Best Integration Solution for Your Car

The rapid advancement of technology has made integrating smartphone controls into older vehicles easier and more affordable than ever before. Whether you opt for retrofitting with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, utilize the Uconnect system, or explore the power of Google’s Android Automotive, you’re sure to find a solution that meets your needs and budget.

Remember to consider your specific needs when choosing the right solution for your car. For example, if you’re an iPhone user, ensure the device you choose provides CarPlay support. Alternatively, for Android users, look for devices that support auto Android.

Also, consider the physical integration into your vehicle. Make sure the device or system you select will fit into your dashboard, and understand that some solutions may require professional installation.

With the growth of tech giants like Google and Apple in the automotive industry, the future for older cars and smartphone integration looks bright. Keep your eyes open for new developments and innovations in this field. By doing so, you can bring your trusty old ride into the modern age, ensuring a safer and more convenient driving experience.