The iPod, along with iTunes, not only destroyed the music industry’s revenue structure — it revolutionized how we listen to music in the car. CD players had finally pushed the tape deck out of the cockpit, only to be nothing more than glorified coasters for many consumers. The MP3 replaced the CD even faster.
Auxiliary jacks with analog capability were a bridge — originally intended to satisfy tape deck lovers — but some brands leapfrogged others by offering USB integration to get all the digital goods out of the iPod with song titles and playlists.
Now, many cars’ iPod integration is so advanced that they display album artwork along with song information.
Some cars have advanced HD Radio that allows drivers to “tag” a song they hear on the radio, and that song is then saved to their iTunes profile to purchase the next time they open their iTunes.
Today, the Holy Grail for automakers is complete smartphone integration. Ford’s Sync system is the furthest along today, but the entire industry is working on it. Imagine turning your car on, and not only do you get your phone contacts and capability automatically synced — like most Bluetooth systems today — but your email, text messages, social networks and other capabilities start up exactly where you left off when you put your phone in your pocket to drive. And hopefully, the phone never comes out of the pocket while driving.
Many have also integrated apps that exist in the iTunes App Store like Pandora and Spotify directly into their multimedia systems.
Many smartphones offer Bluetooth streaming, but the iPhone can stream music from its iPod and, most importantly, popular apps like Pandora and Spotify. Some new cars such as the Hyundai Veloster have the Pandora app built into the car, and it that seamlessly interacts with the Pandora iPhone app over Bluetooth.
While the iPad is a bit bulky for a driver to use, we’ve found it to be an excellent in-car entertainment option for backseat passengers. Simply sling an affordable case around the front passengers’ headrests, and you have a much bigger screen than most expensive built-in DVD options that automakers offer.
Plus, you have the advantage of buying or renting movies from iTunes as opposed to buying DVDs that can get lost in the car or forgotten. And if you’re vacationing, you have that iPad to entertain the kids instead of bringing a video game system or if the hotel TV isn’t satisfactory.
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