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Using Your iPod in the Car

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When you love your music, you want to listen to it everywhere—including and especially in your car. Although you could pop on your earphones to listen to your iPod while driving, that's not really safe and might even be illegal in your particular locale. A better solution is to somehow pipe the tunes from your iPod through your car's built-in audio system. How you do this depends on the features of your particular car (and car audio system) and how much trouble you want to go through. Michael Miller runs through the most common options in this sample chapter.

Connecting to an iPod-Enabled Car

Some people have it good. These folks own cars that are iPod-compatible from the factory. Yes, it's true; a lot of today's new cars have built-in iPod connectivity.

If you own an iPod-compatible car, all you have to do is connect your iPod to the car stereo. How this works depends on the type of iPod integration.

Cars that offer full iPod compatibility provide a cable (often located in the car's glove compartment) or dashboard dock that connects to your iPod's dock connector. After you connect your iPod, you control it via the car's in-dash audio system, hear iPod playback over your car's speakers, and view track info on your system's in-dash display. As an added bonus, your iPod recharges when connected. (Figure 14.1 shows an iPod connected to a Volvo audio system.)

Figure 14.1

Figure 14.1 Connecting an iPod to a Volvo in-dash system.

Of course, not all iPod-compatible cars are this fancy. For example, GM's iPod "compatibility" consists of an auxiliary mini-jack input on the front of their factory-installed audio systems. You connect the earphone out jack on your iPod (or any MP3 player) to this auxiliary input, which means you're simply using your car audio system for audio playback; there's no in-dash display of track info or remote control of iPod operation. (Figure 14.2 shows an iPod connected to a GM audio system in this fashion.)

Figure 14.2

Figure 14.2 Connecting an iPod to a GM in-dash system.

Apple claims that more than two-thirds of all 2007-model cars sold in the United States offer some sort of iPod connectivity. Which brands offer iPod connectivity? Here's the current list:

  • Acura
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • Ferrari
  • Ford
  • GM
  • Honda
  • Infiniti
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes
  • Mini
  • Nissan
  • Scion
  • Suzuki
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

It goes without saying that not all makes and models from these brands offer iPod connectivity. In addition, iPod connectivity is often an option, not standard equipment—which means you'll pay a little extra for it. (For example, BMW's iPod Adapter costs $149 plus dealer installation.) But still, factory-installed iPod connectivity is definitely the easiest way to go; there's nothing for you to install, just connect your iPod and start listening, using your car radio's standard controls. If your current car isn't iPod compatible, make sure this feature is on your checklist when you're shopping for a new car.

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