Intrepid hacker builds a Nexus 7 tablet into their car dashboard, great for web radio

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 11:30am

Nexus 7 in-car dash hackThe Nexus 7 is the latest and greatest Android tablet and one brave soul has hacked it into his 2008 Dodge Ram dashboard. Android Community calls it "quite possibly the most amazing in-dash entertainment system" they've seen. The tablet can be removed from the dashboard, but while it's docked it can playback media right to the car's stereo.

Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 doesn't connect to the web on its own, so one would need to tether the device to a smartphone or mobile hotspot to stream web radio. But that's no different than the slick OEM options rolling out from Ford, GM, Toyota and other automakers.

Android Community has more coverage and a video walk-through of the hack right here.

Sprint to provide wireless connectivity for Chrysler in-car Uconnect service

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 1:30pm

Chrysler UconnectChrysler has announced its in-car connectivity service Uconnect will use Sprint's network. That means the car can connect to the web and perform certain functions without the aid of a smartphone -- including offering a Wi-Fi hotspot to other devices (streaming web radio is not specifically mentioned in the companies' press release).

That said, Chrsyler points out its in-car system will play nice with users' smartphones and offer voice controls (to help the driver pay attention to, you know, driving).

Sprint-powered Uconnect will initially be available in the 2013 RAM 1500, SRT Viper and Dodge Dart R/T models. Engadget has more coverage here.

Stitcher launches new in-car API for Chevy's Sonic and Spark models

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 12:30pm

Chevy VoltTalk web radio service Stitcher has announced its new in-car API Stitcher Connect for Chevy's Sonic and Spark models. "Stitcher Connect allows for easy integration with Chevrolet's connected dashboard," the company says in its press release. "This allows Stitcher to function through external controls like voice, touch and steering wheel controls."

Said CEO Noah Shanok, "Over a third of our listeners are currently using Stitcher in the car... The connected car is poised to eclipse the traditional radio dial."

You can Stitcher's press release here.

Lifehacker offers tips on how to (cheaply) integrate a smartphone into your car

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 11:30am

Car stereo of todayNew cars have a myriad of ways to connect to your smartphone and play web radio, but if your vehicle is even just a few years old, you may not have all the bells and whistles needed. How to connect your smartphone to a "dumb" car stereo?

Lifehacker offers some tips, pointing out some cheap USB adapters, clever tricks and even handy office supplies that can help make your car smartphone-friendly. Or, if you're feeling crafty, you could always turn your ashtray into a makeshift smartphone dock (RAIN coverage here).

Here's a preview that may put a chill down some radio folks' spines: to get the best reception out of an FM transmitter connected to your smartphone, Lifehacker suggests removing your car antenna! Though with apps from TuneIn or iHeartRadio installed, maybe that's not such a big deal...

Find Lifehacker's tips here.

In-car tech development may soon speed up as prices "continue to drop" for consumers; radio should take note

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 12:00pm

Tesla Model SFor the past few years, the tech world -- much like the Internet radio industry -- has been focused on mobile. From touchscreens to apps to voice command systems, "the hottest tech" has been on our phones, GigaOM writes. "But that may be about to change...our vehicles have a brighter future. The chip industry is betting on automotive in a big way."

As RAIN readers will know, many new cars already offer somewhat easy access to web radio services. Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, BMW and others all offer in-dash apps for Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker, TuneIn and other web radio services.

But development in auto tech may accelerate. Companies like Nvidia, Texas Instruments and others are building new processors for cars to run more apps and offer more functionality on dashboards, GigaOM reports. Such developments are driven in part by "steadily rising" revenue derived from putting new entertainment and connectivity technology into cars.

"In the next year or two we’re going to see cars with services that redefine technology," GigaOM comments.

But connecting to the web may be a problem. Most car systems now rely on smartphones, but others take a different approach. The Tesla Model S (pictured above), for example, connects directly to the web -- no smartphone required. It will also come with TuneIn's web radio directory built in to the dashboard's whopping 17" touchscreen (and also happens to be TuneIn's 200th distribution platform).

Still, such systems -- regardless of how they get online -- run into the same issues of data costs and network capacity. While "the jury is still out" on such issues, GigaOM writes (here), "it's clearly a platform of interest to carriers."

Toyota EntuneCompanies like Livio are looking to make it easier for carmakers to adopt and include web radio technology in dashboards. Livio has just announced it has joined the GENIVI alliance, a Linux-based infotainment platform used by automakers as "a common framework" (more here).

For consumers though, access to such digital connectivity is getting cheaper. "The price of entry continues to drop," writes Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs. He points (here) to the sub-$18,000 Ford Fiesta (equipped with Sync) and the $27,000 Toyota Tacoma (with Entune, pictured left) as examples.

"The automakers and the after-market manufacturers are looking for ways to make the digital dashboard a cheap, easy entry point." And, as Jacobs has found in his own Techsurveys, "about one-fifth of those who have vehicles equipped with these systems [like Sync and Entune] indicate they are listening to less broadcast radio as a result."

"It all points to the need for broadcast radio to do what it does best – serve local communities with programming and personalities that you just can’t get anywhere else with a great consumer experience."

Wired takes a scenic drive through the "bumpy" history of in-car entertainment

Friday, July 20, 2012 - 12:15pm

Car radio history

From the earliest 1930s AM radio models to web-connected, Bluetooth-sporting, Pandora-playing touchscreens, in-car entertainment has come a long way. Wired takes a roadtrip through the often "bumpy" history of car radios and audio systems with a new photo gallery, found here.

The publication highlights the first AM/FM car radio (1953), the 8-track tape player (1965), cassette players, iPod integration solutions and of course Pandora and the coming "new era of in-car entertainment."

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