Over 2.5 million have activated Pandora in-car app

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 12:50pm

Leading webcaster Pandora announced today its in-car integration has topped 2.5 million "unique activations." Its app is now available in 23 major automotive brands (plus eight aftermarket partners) -- making the service available in more than 100 different cars.

Convenient in-dash access has long been considered by webcasters to be the most-significant technological obstacle to competing with AM/FM broadcast radio, which is dominant in cars.

Pandora estimates one-third of all new cars sold in the U.S. this year will come with access to its service. The webcaster says integrations in new models from Dodge, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, and Ram are coming soon.

Read more in Pandora's blog here.

GM to equip 2014 cars with 4G mobile

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 12:00pm

General Motors, a pioneer in car-connectivity with its OnStar system, has fallen behind other automakers in the category (like Ford and its Sync system).

Now GM hopes to leapfrog other car makers by wiring 2014 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Opel, and Vauxhall brands in the U.S. and Canada with 4G mobile broadband technology.

This will not only give drivers and passengers connection at ten times the speed of current offerings, but makes the car itself a "virtual smartphone" (most competitors' systems, as well as GM's current MyLink system, pictured, require an actual smartphone be connected to the dash).  The Wall Street Journal reports GM will use AT&T as its 4G provider.

We can't wait to hear more about this and other matters related to in-dash delivery of Internet radio at RAIN Summit West, April 7 in Las Vegas. We'll feature a panel called "Dashboard Discussions" to tackle these issues. Get more info on RAIN Summit West here.

Read more from The Journal here.

Jacobs finds "the good and the bad" for radio at this week's CES

Friday, January 11, 2013 - 11:10am

Jacobs Media boss Fred Jacobs has a really nice round-up of his walk-through of this past week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- especially helpful as it's through the eyes of a radio industry pro.

[Of course, Jacobs & Co. had their own big news from CES, as jacAPPS is now Ford's "recommended mobile app development house" for the carmaker's in-dash SYNC AppLink system. See our coverage here.]

Jacobs found lots at CES about radio, both "the good and the bad:"

"Radio has a very solid place in today’s dashboards – and in the cars of the future," Jacobs writes. Yet, "there are still so few radio people here... Isn’t it time that radio joined the rest of the world and recognized that consumer electronics is at the epicenter of consumer and business for all of media?"

Read Fred Jacbos' blog on the CES here.

[Edit: "Hat tip" to our colleague Tom Taylor, who also reported on Fred Jacbos' CES blog 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."

Honda to offer in-car web radio with HondaLink and Harman's Aha Radio

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 12:40pm

HondaLinkHonda has become the latest carmaker to offer in-car web radio.

The company yesterday announced a new system called HondaLink, which incoporates Aha Radio (from audio-equipment supplier Harman) and includes built-in support for Pandora.

Like the systems offered by Ford, GM and other automakers, HondaLink reportedly relies on a smartphone to connect to the web. It's controlled via voice commands and in-dash buttons.

The system reportedly includes an in-dash app for Pandora, Slacker and Shoutcast streams. Besides web radio options, HondaLink includes podcasts, audio news feeds from Facebook and Twitter and other offerings. It will first be available in the 2013 Accord.

It's a good first step for Honda, but the company "has a long way to go," writes Wired. "There’s still a lot missing from HondaLink to make it competitive... for now this is just one small step for Honda, while the competition is already on its second lap."

You can find more coverage from Engadget here, The Verge here, Wired here and AutoWeek here.

DIY project converts a car ashtray into a smartphone dock

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 11:05am

iPhone ashtray/dockThe cars of tomorrow will likely rely on smartphones for a plethora of features, including streaming web radio. But perhaps your car of today isn't quite up to the task.

You can help make your car a bit more smartphone-friendly with a new DIY project spotlighted by Lifehacker. It's a way to turn a car's ashtray into a dock for your smartphone.

"All you really need for this project is a bit of scrap plastic, an old dock connector for your phone, and a few tools," writes Lifehacker. "When you're done, you'll have the perfect spot to put your phone, no messy cables required."

You can find Lifehacker's coverage here and the "how to" instructions at Instructables here.

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