Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Connected Car Audio Gains Traction

NAB Labs keeps count of receiver makers’ in-dash offerings that use Bluetooth or wired smartphone connections

NAB Labs is busy counting how many new car audio systems have some kind of Internet connectivity, either using a hard-wired smartphone connected to the car, or wirelessly.

NAB Labs recently conducted a survey on features in aftermarket car audio systems and finds Bluetooth connectivity now supports advanced features like audio streaming and audio/visual remote control.

According to the survey, 50% of models from Alpine, JVC and Pioneer, as well as one-third of Kenwood and Sony aftermarket models support advanced Bluetooth with audio streaming. By contrast, some 10% of Alpine, Sony and Pioneer aftermarket car audio systems use Bluetooth for hands-free calls-only.

The impact on traditional radio in the dash is significant. Previous car audio systems enabled connectivity with a USB port or aux input using an audio cable connected to a MP3 player or other device; Advanced Bluetooth increasingly offered now allows more devices to support Internet audio and navigation features.

In addition to analog AM/FM, HD Radio or satellite radio, many of these new car audio systems also offer Internet audio options, like Pandora.

The NAB Labs survey highlights which connected models are specifically compatible with Pandora. “Of all the systems (both connected and unconnected) from each of the five manufacturers, at least 50% included Pandora capability (via USB or Bluetooth-connected smartphone), the most Pandora-capable being Pioneer (96%) and JVC (89%),” according to the NAB Labs Tech Check.

While all of the applications are compatible with the Apple iPhone and iPod, “a “significant amount” are not compatible with Android or BlackBerry smartphones, according to the findings. However future models may expand their Bluetooth or USB connectivity to include Android and BlackBerry compatibility, according to NAB Labs.

Not only is connectivity via broadband to the dash a trend that is increasing, more aftermarket receiver manufacturers are increasingly offering phone-based GPS navigation through car audio systems.

Read more about what aftermarket and OEM receiver makers plan for in-dash car offerings in an upcoming issue of Radio World.