Make Your Phones’ Navigation Talk to You in the Car

Somewhat often customers will contact me and tell me they like using their phone’s navigation when in their vehicle. The question I regularly get asked is “why can’t I hear what the phone’s navigation is telling me when I’m in my vehicle?” Good question!

When you pair your phone to your vehicle, two different kinds of Bluetooth connections are being made at once. First your phone is connecting to allow you hands-free calling. This is how you can use your voice command system to simply speak the name of the person you’re trying to call and the car will dial for you. The second way your phone connects is as a media device. This allows any audio coming out of your phone to be sent to the car so you could listen over your speakers. However, in order to make this work the audio source you’re listening to has to be Bluetooth Audio. This has been a source of frustration for some customers, because this means they can’t listen to AM/FM/XM radio and receive navigation at the same time.

Apple has come up with a way around this headache, by allowing users access to something called a hands free profile for navigation, or HFP. This process ingeniously tricks your car into thinking each verbal command from your phone’s navigation app. (“turn right in 2 miles” or “exit the traffic circle at Main Street” or things like that) Each time the app wants to talk to you to give you radio will mute and your vehicle’s call screen will pop up. You’ll hear the command (no need to answer this phony call) and when it’s over your radio will come back on. Beautiful.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to make this work.

  1. Pair your iPhone to your vehicle via bluetooth
  2. Sit in your vehicle with the radio on and the phone connected via bluetooth
  3. On your iPhone, open the Maps app (not Google Maps or any other navigation app)
  4. Tell the app to take you somewhere, because you need an active route to make this work
  5. Once a route is active, slide the rectangular box on the bottom of the screen upward
  6. Choose the button on the bottom right corner labeled “Audio”. It will look like a speaker and a bluetooth logo.
  7. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the available audio options, and under the heading “Output” you’ll see an option to “Allow HFP Prompts”. Turn “Allow HFP Prompts” on.
  8. Tap done in the upper right hand corner.
  9. Cancel your current route and start a new one.

HFP

From now on all your directions will come through your car’s audio system, because your phone is tricking your car into believing each spoken direction is a phone call.

For you Android users out there, we have a little different process. You’ll have to download the app “AudioBT Plus” (for a cost of $1.99) and then complete set up within the app. It’s not perfect, but I’d imagine something like this is coming in the future as a standard feature in either Google Maps, or in phone features in general.

I hope that solves a headache or two for you all. Let me know if I can help further!

Andy

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Life After Your In-Vehicle CD Player

I written before about how automakers are removing cd players from the in-dash entertainment systems of new vehicles. They’re doing this for two reasons: first, anytime you can remove a component in a vehicle you save money. Many people tell you they don’t use the CD player in their vehicle so manufacturers can remove them and inconvenience a small amount of people. Second, cd players take up space in your dashboard. New infotainment systems that do elaborate things like GPS navigation and phone projection systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto take up a fair amount of space.

So those are the basic reasons why CD players are going away; to save money and space. But for those of us who do enjoy our CD player in our vehicles, this is more than a little inconvenience. It makes it difficult to access the library of music we’ve built on CD, as well as listening to audiobooks we either purchase or borrow from the public library.

In my previous post I mentioned there were three ways to deal with not having an in-dash CD player. You can either hook up a Walkman style CD player and play the music from the auxiliary port, you can have an aftermarket CD player installed from our vehicle accessory shop, or you can convert your music to a digital format and play it in your vehicle using a USB flash drive. In this post I’d like to focus on the specifics of how to convert your music to digital files for you so the USB flash drive in your vehicle.

Step 1: You’ll need a computer. Either a laptop or a desktop computer with a CD ROM drive should do the trick. Even some newer laptops are sold now without CD ROM drives, so make sure your computer has one.

Step 2: You’ll need some software. Using a program like iTunes, Windows media player, or a free CD ripping tool from online will be how you convert music from your CDs to a digital format your car can play.

Step 3: Check the specific details for your vehicle’s infotainment system in your owners manual. All vehicles have their specific limitations and restrictions when it comes to playing digital music from a USB flash drive. It is a very good idea to check your cars owners manual to see what file format are acceptable, what size USB device can be used, and how the vehicle wants these files organized on the drive.

Step 4: Purchase the appropriately sized USB flash drive. Like almost all technology the price of USB flash drives has plummeted in recent years. So that used to cost over $100 now costs just a fraction of that. If you’re looking for a 16 GB or 32 GB flash drive, you can get them at any department store for less than $20.

Step 5: Check your software’s exporting settings. What you want to be sure of at this point is what format your music will be converted to, and where this music will be stored on your computer once that happens. Make sure your music is being converted to a form at your car can read (MP3 is usually best) and make sure the music is going to a folder on your computer you can easily locate.

Step 6: Rip your music. The process of converting music from audio CDs to digital files is called “ripping”. It doesn’t do any harm to your CDs, it’s simply allows you to make a digital copy of what’s already available to you. Each CD should take between five and 10 minutes to rip. You put in a CD, start the ripping process, and wait for the program to tell you it’s completed. Repeat this step with all your CDs until they’ve all been converted. This part of the process is the most tedious but once all of your music has been converted you shouldn’t ever have to do it again.

Step 7: Find the newly ripped music files and transfer them to your new USB flash drive. Plug in your USB flash drive then Open the folder that has your digital music in it. Highlight all of it and drag it to your USB flash drive on screen. Windows users can just highlight the files, right click, and choose “send to…” USB drive.

Step 8: Try it out and enjoy. Once your computer has finished moving all of your audio files to your USB flash drive, you can unplug it from your computer and take it out to your vehicle and plug it into USB drive there. From here your vehicles infotainment system should be able to play the audio on the flash drive and even organize it for you based on album name, artist name, song name, and many other criteria.

I know this seems like a lot of steps to replace one taken for granted piece of technology like the CD player. But a flash drive can store dozens if not hundreds of albums, and brings its own level of convenience. Just like any other new technology the hardest part is getting used to it. I’ve helped many people convert their music from CDs to a digital format before, and many of them have told me after-the-fact that they like playing music from there USB flash drives better than keeping a book of CDs in their car at all times.

I hope this detailed tutorial has helped. If anyone has specific nitty-gritty questions, feel free to reach out and I’ll help in anyway I can.

Protect Your Privacy When You Trade In Your Vehicle

We live in the information age, in my opinion that’s incredibly exciting. We have access to almost all the information in human history simply by pulling our phones out of our pockets and looking it up. It truly is an exciting time to be alive. The downside to this age is that some of the information out there is personal. More more people are concerned, and rightly so, for the safety and security of their personal and private information.

One area where many people might not think to safeguard their privacy is when they are trading in a vehicle or turning in a lease. There are some very important steps I recommend you take in order to make sure that your information isn’t floating around out there in the world after your vehicle is no longer in your possession.

The first step I recommend you take is clearing the “Home” destination from your vehicle’s navigation system. The process of doing this is different for each vehicle so you might need to consult your owners manual or your friendly neighborhood technology specialist in order to ensure this is done correctly. The danger here is a stranger having access to exactly where you live, which can be kind of unnerving. In fact, I typically recommend people don’t save their actual home address as their “Home” destination on the navigation system. I typically recommend people choose a landmark nearby so that if someone does get their vehicle before the navigation is cleared that person won’t have access to their address. I usually recommend a pizzeria, gas station, or nearby coffee shop as a good option.

I’ve written previously about how to pair your HomeLink universal garage door opener built into your vehicle with your garage door. This is really convenient technology but another privacy idea to consider is clearing that garage door code from your car before you turn it in. This is accomplished simply by holding the two outside HomeLink garage door buttons down for about 20 seconds, or until the little light rapidly flashes. This is especially important to do the long side taking your “Home” destination out of your navigation. If you do neither of these things whoever buys your car on trade could conceivably drive to your home and open your garage. I’ve never heard of an instance where its happened, but it’s never a bad idea to protect yourself.

My final piece of advice is the simplest. Before becoming a Technology specialist I was a sales person at one of our dealerships. More often than not customers when trading a vehicle would not take paperwork out of their glove box. At best the paperwork in your glove box will contain your name address phone number and insurance information, but frequently I saw that people had put all the paperwork from their original purchase in the glove box and left it there the entire life of the vehicle. So when these people trade it in their cars and left all the paperwork behind they left names, addresses, phone, numbers, Social Security numbers, bank loan information, and more! My best advice would be don’t leave paperwork from the original purchase in the glove box in the first place, but also make sure it’s all cleared out before it’s time to take delivery of your new ride.

Sales people do a fantastic job of going over the vehicles again to make sure any left behind information doesn’t stay with the vehicle, but the best way to be sure that your information is safeguarded is by taking these precautionary steps yourself. But the rise of identity theft and an identity related crimes it’s more and more important to be vigilant with our information. If there’s anything that we can do to assist in the process, we’re glad to do it.

Stay Connected
Andy

Vehicle Technology News, July 2017

One of the most exciting things about owning a new vehicle is the fact that for the first time in history new features can be added to the car after the fact for free via software updates. Previously when you bought a vehicle with 20 features on it you would have a car with 20 features on it at the end of it’s life. The constant advancement of technology has allowed new features and new vehicle news to break all the time.

With this in mind let’s take a look at some vehicle technology news for the month of July, 2017.

(If you follow me on Twitter [and you know you should] you’ll see I talked about these yesterday!)

The suite of General Motors apps (MyChevrolet, MyGMC, MyBuick, MyCadillac) that allows key fob functionality for 2011 OnStar connected vehicles in newer has brought their talents to the Apple Watch. If you have one of the MyGM apps on your iPhone and you also own an Apple Watch you will be able to remote start, lock, and unlock your vehicle right from your watch. This will end up being remarkably convenient for GM owners who want to maintain their busy lifestyles while staying connected to their vehicle.

In other news, Google has finally made good on their promises to allow Waze as a navigation option through Android Auto. Waze is a popular crowd sourced navigation system that gives you real time traffic updates from other users. Waze has a very dedicated following of users and the addition of this functionality is going to be welcomed by a lot of people. Check out video below from the good people at Engadget.com to see a demonstration of how it works.

And in the opposite of technology news I wanted to offer a happy birthday to Ford trucks. As of Thursday, July 27 Ford has been making trucks for 100 years. Based on the quality, care, and Innovacion ford put into their vehicles it’s no wonder they’ve had 100 years of success.

So that’s the news update for July. Stay tuned for the next latest and greatest technology updates. I’ll bring them to you as they happen.

Correcting a Toyota Bluetooth Quirk

Correcting a Toyota Bluetooth Quirk

A customer contacted me recently with an interesting problem. Her phone use to work just fine with her 2015 Toyota Prius. Recently her phone experienced an operating system update and all of a sudden she was having problems connecting her phone to her car via Bluetooth.

The issue was that whenever her phone connect via Bluetooth it would be connected for about 30 seconds and then disconnect from the Prius. Not only would it disconnect, it would actually shut the vehicle’s Bluetooth off and not allow it to be turned back on again until the vehicle was shut off and restarted. She was using a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone but when an iPhone user paired to her vehicle they had no problems at all. (This issue does not apply to current generation Entune systems on Toyotas. This is something that happens on the previous generations infotainment system, 2012 to as late as 2015, systems referred to by Toyota service departments as 11 CY)

toyota 11 CY 02At first glance I had no idea what to do with this issue. And obviously had something to do with the android operating system update that the Galaxy S5 experienced and didn’t seem to be an issue with the car itself considering it had no problems functioning with an iPhone. I took to the Internet and did as much research as I possibly could and saw that there were a number of other previous owners across the country having the exact same issue.

Here’s what I found out: Occasionally, android phones running android version 4.0 and higher essentially send so much information to the infotainment system when it tries to share text messages that it causes an overload that forces the Bluetooth connection in the Toyota to shut down, almost as a self-defense against further problems. After a little bit more digging I was able to find a solution.

  1. galaxy S5Delete the Bluetooth paring on the car’s screen, and from the phone
  2. Fully shutdown the phone and restart it
  3. Fully turn off the vehicle and restart it
  4. Pair your Bluetooth phone to the Toyota
  5. When you’re asked for permissions on your phone’s screen, choose Allow when asked to share contacts with vehicle.
  6. DO NOT ALLOW text messages to be shared when asked on your phone’s screen
  7. It will not disconnect and shut off the vehicles Bluetooth as long as text messages it shared. You can still send and receive calls, use the voice command system to dial, and play Bluetooth audio.

This isn’t a perfect fix but it will allow you to regain all phone functionality with the vehicle with the exception of sending and receiving text messages on the vehicle’s infotainment screen. I would love to hear from you if you’re having this issue and Here if the solution works for you. The customer I helped earlier this month seems to have her issue solved with this solution.

Stay Connected,
Andy

Technology Specialist FAQ vol 2

Technology Specialist FAQ vol 2

It’s time for another edition of Technology Specialist frequently asked questions!

Question: My spouse and I both have cell phones. Can we connect two at once so no matter which one of us gets a call it rings through the vehicle’s Bluetooth system?

Answer: Unfortunately, your car can only connect to one bluetooth device at at time. You have have multiple phones paired to a vehicle at once, but only one can be connected at a time. This is true of any phone accessory like a bluetooth headphones or speakers. Most vehicles give you the choice of choosing one of the phones to be the primary phone, meaning that phone will be connected even if there are other paired devices around the vehicle.

Question: My vehicle didn’t come with SiriusXM radio, but I’d really like to have it. How can I get it?

Answer: As with just about anything you want to add to your vehicle, West Herr Vehicle Accessories can add it for you. What you’ll probably need is an SiriusXM receiver and antenna installed in your vehicle, or an entirely new head unit, whichever makes the most sense for your budget and installation availability.

Question: My vehicle has a button labeled “Apps”, does this mean the apps from my phone will be available on the screen of my vehicle?

Answer: In short, sometimes. On Ford and Lincoln systems with Sync 3, some compatible apps will be available onscreen under the Apps page, and on Toyota Entune Audio Plus systems the apps page will reflect your vehicle’s auto streaming apps along with a few others, but that’s about it. The infotainment screens were designed to provide exactly what you’d expect; information and entertainment, but everything on screen is in service of the driver and the act of driving. If it doesn’t enhance that experience it probably won’t make its way on screen.

Question: When should I press the Traction Control Off button?

Answer: The traction control system turns on automatically every time you start your vehicle. It identifies when a wheel isn’t getting substantial traction and transfers power from that wheel to one that is. You’d want to turn this system off only when you’re stuck in a stopped position. This allows the wheels to spin and the vehicle to rock forwards and backwards giving you an opportunity to catch traction and pull out of your stuck position and move forward.

These are some question I often get from customers, but feel free to comment with your own and I’ll answer them in a future post.

Stay Connected,
Andy

Make Your Vehicle’s Technology New Again

Make Your Vehicle’s Technology New Again

One of the things that your post office from people when I’m assisting them with their vehicles is something along the lines of, “My car used to do things this way but now it doesn’t anymore and I can’t get it to go back to the way it was.” This can happen for a number of reasons. It can be because something was changed when you or someone else was tinkering with the vehicle settings. It could be a button was pressed accidentally. No matter the reason, it’s still very frustrating to have your vehicle set up one way and then have that change on you one day for what appears to be no reason.

There is however a way to fix this, and this solution works on almost all vehicles with an infotainment screen. To make your vehicle’s electronics behave the way they did the day you took it home, simply go into your vehicle settings and choose to factory reset your infotainment system. This will revert all settings back to the way they were the day the car rolled off the assembly line. I need settings that were changed in a way that was inconvenient for you will all be put back to the way it was.

ford-master-resetNow this setting option will be found in different places and can be called different things depending on the make and model of your vehicle. On the Chevy equinox from 2012 to 2017 this is found in the radio settings and is called Reset Radio. On the Toyota Entune system this is found under general settings and called “Delete Personal Data.” On current General Motors vehicles this can be found under the heading of “Settings” and then choosing “Vehicle” followed be “Factory Reset.” Ford’s Sync 3 system calls it “Master Reset.”

toyota-delete-personal-dataThe beauty of your vehicle electronics is there are almost no moving parts associated with them. This means there is a very low chance of them wearing out and failing because of age. That means if something goes wrong or he ends up being different than it used to be it’s probably just a setting that got changed and can be restored with a reset. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy to reset your engine back to the way it drove the day you took it home as opposed to the way it runs 200,000 miles later? If only it were that easy.

The downside here is the same as the upside; all of your personal data will be erased. That means you’ll have to reset your radio presets, change any specific settings that you liked that differed from the factory ones, and re-pair your Bluetooth phone. There’s also ends up being a benefit because sometimes a Bluetooth connection that is intermittent can benefit from a fresh connection.

This is also helpful for another reason. Knowing how to factory reset your vehicles radio is important for when your time with that your vehicle is up. It’s a wise idea to factory reset a radio before trading it in or selling it to another party. This will help secure any personal information stored in your vehicle and help protect your privacy.

Most people who spend their lives around technology and gadgets (such as myself) will tell you that factory resetting your electronics (cell phones, tablets, computers, etc) periodically over their lives goes along way toward keeping them from having problems and behaving slowly over time. The same is true for your car. You don’t need to reset your cars system, but it never hurts if you want to take things back to the way they were. The good old days.

Stay Connected,
Andy