How to Help your Car Stream Bluetooth Music from your Smartphone
You may have heard I bought a Toyota RAV4 last month.
Like any new relationship with tech, I was dazzled by all the sparkle.
“And you can make Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls from your smartphone with the car’s voice-recognition technology using the overhead microphone and stereo speakers?
But the next morning, you invariably wake up, take another look and realize when it comes to tech, perfection is always just out of reach.
“You can’t stream music from a smartphone to the car’s speakers via Bluetooth?!
You didn’t tell me that last night!!”
Your Phone’s Ball and Chain
When your tech isn’t the latest and greatest, you’re at risk for a few surprises…
(Remember, I bought a pre-owned vehicle.)
And while car body styles don’t change much from year to year, the embedded tech you don’t see ages swiftly in dog years.
(Today, a brand new RAV4 can do the streaming music trick.)
So to play my iPhone’s music through my car’s stereo system, I discovered I needed to jack in my iPhone to an AUX input port next to the shift lever, using a bright green mini cable (3.5 mm) I had lying about.
Now, who wants to hard-wire your phone every time you want some tunes?
So what’s a humanoid to do?
Get thee to a computer and research a Bluetooth receiver workaround to replace this messy, old school cabling solution!
You may not need the resources of a Viking king to figure it all out,
but it couldn’t hurt. I found this tech rabbit hole particularly deep…
(Along the way, you may even uncover the origins of Bluetooth’s odd name!)
R2D2 Vs A2DP
Like my RAV4, lots of newer cars come equipped with Bluetooth power to make smartphone calls via the car’s stereo system.
But to stream music via Bluetooth from the same smartphone, a car also needs to be ‘A2DP’ capable.
(Is that something out of “Star Wars?!”)
A2DP is simply a newer Bluetooth flavor.
It stands for “Advanced Audio Distribution Profile.”
And that’s what enables your car to stream Bluetooth ‘audio.’
So if your car can’t do A2DP, what you need is a portable A2DP Bluetooth receiver to pair with your smartphone and then send the A2DP audio down the car’s AUX jack with its own cable.
Don’t Cross the Streams
In case you’re wondering, it’s not a problem to pair two devices to your smartphone:
- One connection to your car’s phone system
- Another to your new Bluetooth adapter for music
In fact, Bluetooth tech allows you to connect up to 8 devices simultaneously.
Just don’t try to do exactly the same thing with any two of the connections.
That would cause a universe-ending ‘conflict.’
(like crossing the streams in “Ghostbusters”)
Choose your Bluetooth Receiver!
There are three variables to consider when you look to buy your portable Bluetooth receiver:
You might expect a wide range of available solutions to address all three pieces. But in fact, there are not!
The challenge is finding a compact unit with a DC adapter that’s priced right.
I’ve done some research, and I’m chastened to report in today’s marketplace you can only get two of the three:
#1 – Compact and Good Price, but Requires Regular Recharging
What’s not to like? The form factor is perfect!
It’s tiny and does the job of bridging the inches between your iPhone and the AUX jack. The problem is it only runs on its rechargeable battery.
So you’ve always got to worry about charging it up via a USB port.
This one doesn’t have the short cable. Its little plug juts right out of the unit.
Then, the tiny stick attaches onto the AUX jack.
This uber-compact design may or may not work for your car…
#2 – Good price and DC Adapter, but More Messy Cables
This device can also handle your phone calls, because it houses a microphone in its little disc controller.
But you don’t have to use it for that purpose, since you’ve already got your car’s phone system paired to your phone for that use.
The unit gets really great reviews on Amazon. It even auto-connects, when it senses your phone! The only problem is you’ve got two cables to contend with.
(DC power to the unit, and then the connection to the AUX jack)
Granted, neither of them weighs down your phone.
It’s more expensive, but for no apparent reason.
#3 – Compact and a DC Adapter, but Expensive
This should be the perfect choice!
Its design has only one cable running from your DC adapter
(which houses the Bluetooth receiver) straight to your AUX jack.
The only problem is price. It shouldn’t be this expensive!
I think the root cause is it’s been discontinued.
(no longer seen on Griffin’s website.)
Now, it’s only offered on Amazon Prime through a third party.
So, buyer beware…
Runner up: NONE!
(I don’t see any other products out there designed like the BlueTrip AUX…)
Tomorrow is NOT Yesterday
I think the real problem here is there’s no ‘problem.’
What I mean is… today’s ‘new’ cars can normally handle A2DP audio streaming if they’ve got Bluetooth functionality.
They don’t need no stinking adapters!
So this is yesterday’s problem.
Manufacturers know this and probably haven’t continued to offer more efficient solutions, simply because there’s no future in supporting this particular past.
(I came upon several viable devices online that were no longer available…)
The Kinivo Joins the Team
So what’s a cable-phobic tech everyman to do?
Honestly, I considered doing nothing and just leave that bright green mini cable in my car for my iPhone’s use. The phone slips nicely into a little slot right above the AUX jack.
(My little green snake really isn’t that horrible!)
But that solution wouldn’t be very forward focused, would it?
And hardly a fitting end to this week’s epic journey in search of tech enlightenment.
So I Iooked again at the Kinivo and its 963 ratings boasting four and five stars.
(versus only 97 lower ratings)
If adding two cables to lose one cable is what it takes to free up my iPhone from its lowly 20th century tether, then I say….
…well, let’s move on.
Did I mention how much I love my car?