Automakers join online music revolution, finally (pictures)
Just about every new car comes with a USB port and a Bluetooth audio connection, but many people now listen to music from online sources. Here are the latest automakers to integrate online audio.
Ford - online music apps
Ford offers the most online music options of any carmaker, with App Link, a feature of its Sync infotainment system. The system integrates Pandora, TuneIn, Mog, Slacker, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, and Aha Radio. Most recently, Ford added the Amazon Cloud Player.
To use any of these online music services, you will need a Ford car equipped with Sync App Link. Running any of these apps on a smartphone paired with the car, you will be able to control the music playback with voice command, and see some information about the source on the car's display. Note that Ford cars equipped with MyFord Touch do not have App Link.
BMW has recently been adding to its cars' connected features. Where it had only Pandora, Mog, Aupeo, and its own Web radio as integrated music apps, this year the company will be adding Rhapsody and TuneIn to the roster. These music apps only work in BMW models equipped with the BMW Apps option.
Running these online music services in the car requires loading the BMW ConnectedDrive app on an iPhone. Currently, BMW does not have a version of the app for any other platform, such as Android. With the app running and the phone connected to the car, the music apps are enabled through the iDrive interface.
Mini drivers can use Pandora and a Web radio feature through the car's interface, running off of similar technology developed for BMW. And following BMW's lead, Mini will be adding Rhapsody and TuneIn.
To play these online music services in the car, you need to install the Mini Connected app on an iPhone. Unfortunately, Mini has not developed the app for Android or any other platform. With the iPhone cabled to the car, the music services are enabled in its interface.
Toyota includes both Pandora and iHeartRadio in its Entune app integration. Recently updated Toyota models, such as the Prius V, Prius C, and Camry, include Entune integration. Lexus offers Enform, app integration that mirrors Toyota's. Enform apps can be found in new Lexus models such as the GS, ES, and IS.
To play Pandora or iHeartRadio in a Toyota or Lexus model, you will need to load the Entune or Enform app on your iPhone or Android phone. After pairing the phone with the car, you will be able to launch either music app on the car's interface.
Newer Honda and Acura vehicles now integrate both Pandora and Aha Internet radio, featuring full control over the services through the cars' dashboard, when appropriately equipped.
Each service runs differently. For Pandora, you will need to have that app loaded on your phone. Choosing Pandora from the car's audio sources will launch a screen giving access to channels and the thumbs-up and thumbs-down controls. Aha Internet radio requires loading the HondaLink app on your phone, which will then enable Aha on the car's dashboard, similar to what is shown in the photo above.
Chevy and GMC models with MyLink, and Buick models with IntelliLink, can play Pandora and TuneIn online music service through their stereos. GM has offered up its architecture to developers, so more apps are likely to appear.
The MyLink and IntelliLink systems rely on a smartphone running the appropriate music app. The dashboard interface lets the driver select stations from the car's touch screen.
Nissan recently added Pandora integration for both its new Altima and Sentra models.
You will need Pandora installed on an iPhone or Android, after which you will be able to choose Pandora as an audio source from the car's stereo. The interface shows a personalized station list and includes thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.
Scion's current line of factory stereos available in its cars includes Pandora integration, complete with all the functions Pandora allows. You can choose from your personalized stations or give a song the thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
With Pandora installed on an Android or iPhone, and paired with or cabled to the car, Pandora becomes available as an audio source.
Subaru integrates Aha Internet radio with the Forester and Outback, as its first foray into the connected car space. Aha serves as a carrier for many audio channels, such as SomaFM and even Slacker.
To use Aha in a Subaru, you need to load the Aha app onto an iPhone or Android. The iPhone will have to be cabled to the car through the USB port, while the Android must be paired via Bluetooth. Choosing the Aha icon from the Subaru's audio source menu will let you see all of your Aha channels on the car's touch screen.
Tesla launched the Model S with a data-connected in-dash infotainment system, and included Slacker as an online music service. Currently, Slacker is the only online music service in the Model S, but the company will likely add more.
With the Model S' built-in data connection, you merely choose Slacker as an audio source. There is no need to pair a phone or load an app.