With the release of iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus) next week, we’re finding questions on the compatibility of the latest Apple phones with existing car audio equipment.
Industry members are already guessing whether the iPhones will even work with CarPlay out of the box, or will a software update be required?
One of the hottest new features of iPhone 7 is its wireless optional AirPod earbuds. But if they pair instantly over Bluetooth (as they do), does your car radio’s Bluetooth remain at the ready when you enter the car?
Car stereo suppliers can’t answer these questions until they buy the iPhone 7 just as everyone else, and begin testing their products. (Pre orders for the 7 and 7 Plus start on September 9 followed by availability on September 16, if you pre-order early enough).
As you likely know, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus lack a headphone jack, and must use an adapter that comes in the box.
NAV-TV’s Derek Schmiedl sees this as an opportunity for car audio shops selling Bluetooth kits and radios. “The vast majority of cars since early 2004 have the standard feature of an aux jack and consumers have gotten used to it. For most people it was the most commonly used way to integrate.” Not all consumers will like the switch to an adapter. Adapters get lost and become a nuisance. “I think people are going to start looking for these [Bluetooth adapters and car radio] products at 12 volt dealers. It’s a new reason for dealers to push audio streaming.”
With the new launch, millions of people are likely to buy the new phones in the first week. Last year, Apple sold 13 million iPhone 6s/6s Plus phones in the first 3 days of launch. (But this year, Apple may not reveal iPhone 7 early sales).
Dan Jeancola of Sound Advice, FL wondered, “… this is the first time that these car manufacturers let Apple into their dash [with CarPlay]. Now every time there’s an operating system update, the day after, if that car radio doesn’t operate, the service managers are going to get calls and the car makers aren’t going to put up with this.”
Almost immediately following Wednesday’s debut of the new iPhones, Scosche announced several new car accessories including a StrikeDrive Converter Kit – an aux-in audio converter that connects via USB to the iPhone’s Lightning sync cable. Then it connects to a car radio’s aux in jack to deliver an audio signal. The kit #USBCA will be available in the fourth quarter 2016.
This is joined by a Scosche Strikeline 3.5mm stereo Lightning cable to connect the iPhone 7 to a car radio’s aux in jack. The 3 ft. long cable has a built in microphone that can activate Siri and control music (play, pause, track forward, track back and volume). The # i3AAC will ship Q4 2016 for $39.99 suggested retail price.
iSimple, (AAMP Global) quickly issued a press announcement that its Bluetooth products are compatible with the new iPhone 7.
It noted, “One of the biggest differences between the iPhone 7 and previous models is the headphone jack….the 3.5 mm headphone jack, a style of connection that’s been around since the nineteenth century. In its place, Apple will use its own proprietary connection instead. ‘While people upgrade their smartphones every 18-24 months, they’re still holding on to their vehicles for years,’” said Shaun Findley, vice president of Safety and Convenience at AAMP Global.
GROM said its expects no compatibility issues with its interface products as they use an MFi connection to deliver direct USB audio to the factory stereo.
We’re assuming for now that many Bluetooth kits from other aftermarket suppliers are iPhone 7 compatible, as well.
Photo–Apple’s Phil Schiller introducing iPhone 7