Tag Archives: phone

Wireless phone charging: coming to a dashboard near you

The first Qi and Powermat wireless phone chargers are arriving in automobiles as options. How does charging work and why should you care?







CNET Car Tech

Panasonic says ‘The phone is the brain’

Panasonic uses the phrase 'The phone is the brain' for its phone-powered head unit tech.

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

DETROIT–With shorter life cycles, navigation and other features on phones tends to be more advanced than those found in cars. During the Detroit auto show, Panasonic showed off head unit concepts with navigation and entertainment powered by a connected phone.

Panasonic had on hand a head unit running its own, embedded infotainment system, one showing Android phone integration through MirrorLink, and a third also running navigation from an Android phone, but this one connected through CloudCar.

Panasonic showed this head unit running the CloudCar service, which translates phone output to the head unit screen.

(Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

With both the MirrorLink and CloudCar implementations, navigation and entertainment functions running on the phone were translated to an appropriate interface for the automotive head unit. A driver could control these functions through the head unit touchscreen or voice comm… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Automate your Android phone in the car with NFC, Bluetooth

Here's everything you'll need to automate your phone in the car.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

A few weeks ago, Garmin released a car kit that uses NFC to automatically launch the Navigon navigation app when a compatible smartphone is placed within its arms. Being an Android fan and a tinkerer at heart, my first thought was, “I could DIY something better than that,” and now I’m going to show you how.

You’ll need:

  • An NFC compatible Android phone. I’m using the LG Nexus 4, but check your specs to make sure that your personal handset is compatible with the technology.
  • An app that can receive instructions from NFC. I’m using Trigger — the app formerly known as NFC Task Launcher.
  • An NFC tag. You can find them for cheap online, but I’m going to be reusing an old transit pass. If you have one lying around, give it a try and you may save a few bucks.
  • Some sort of car cradle. I’ve got dozens of these lying around my desk, but any suction cup or adhesive mount tha… [Read more]
        








    Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Add-on module auto-unlocks your car when your phone is near

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

LOS ANGELES — For some time now, we’ve been anticipating the day that you’d be able to unlock your car by simply approaching it with your smartphone in your pocket. It turns out that the technology has been right under our noses.

The first generation of the Mobile Enhancement Specialist’s (MES) Bluetooth Passive Keyless Entry module hit the market earlier this year and, after being professionally installed in almost any car with power locks, can automatically unlock the vehicle’s doors when it recognizes your Bluetooth-enabled cellphone is within range. The phone doesn’t even have to leave the driver’s pocket; no button presses are required. As you leave the vehicle and exit the effective Bluetooth range, the car will automatically lock itself. According to MES, the module should work with any Bluetooth phone — even my dad’s Moto RAZR flip phone.

This week at the LA Auto Show, we learned about the second generation of this technology — the Premium Bluetooth Passive Keyless Entry module — boasting increased security.

The Premium Bluetooth Keyless Entry app gives the module 128-bit encrypted security and gives the owner control over its behavior.

(Credit: Mobile Enhancement Specialist)

Where the original module worked by recognizing your phon… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Easy One Touch phone mount made for single-handed use (hands-on)

The iOttie Easy One Touch holds a phone firmly in place, either vertically or horizontally.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

One key ergonomic feature of a phone mount for your car is the ability to put the phone in and take it out one-handed, as you will often have keys, a purse, or sunglasses in the other hand. iOttie showed particular attention to this detail with its appropriately, and accurately, named Easy One Touch mount.

The mount’s clamp uses springs and a cleverly placed button that made locking the phone in place very easy.

The Easy One Touch is typical of many car mounts in that it offers no cable guides or pass-throughs, or any sort of built-in electronics. Its job is merely to hold a smartphone up in view of the driver for navigation, hands-free phone calls, and music selection.

As with the Aduro mount, the Easy One Touch’s suction-cup base includes a sticky rubber plate, so that it will not only adhere to windshields, but many dashboards as well. A lever creates suction on the base end of the mount. The sticky material loses its adhesion when it become dirty, but is easily washed. If left in place on a dashboard, or other surface, it holds it grip for very extended periods of time.

After sticking it into place on a smooth surface and pushing its suction lever d… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

You can now unlock your GM car with your Windows Phone

OnStar RemoteLink app.

(Credit: General Motors)

If you lock yourself out of your General Motors car, but have a Windows Phone in your pocket, good news: You can now use your phone to get back in your vehicle.

Related stories:

Tuesday General Motors and Microsoft launched the OnStar RemoteLink app for Windows Phone, three years after the app launched with the Chevy Volt in 2010. The app is also available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

RemoteLink lets you unlock and lock your doors, remotely start your vehicle, and turn off and on your horn and lights, all from … [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

PanaVise 15509 holds your phone far, far away

The 15509 Portagrip has a long, extendable arm, making it suitable for mounting phones in big vehicles.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

Editor’s note: Portions of this review were copied from the PanaVise 15508 Portagrip review.

Constructed of metal and tough plastics, the PanaVise line of Portagrip smartphone mounts are as durable as they come. But the 15509 Portagrip also shows they can accommodate some extreme applications. This particular phone mount, intended to suction cup to a windshield, incorporates a very long, extendable arm, making it suitable for cars with very wide dashboards, recreational vehicles, or construction equipment.

Most of the components of the 15509 Portagrip are the same as those found on the 15508 model, except the 15509 adds an adjustable shaft, giving the unit an extension from approximately 12 to 18 inches. The metal two-part extension arm uses a plastic collar at its midpoint, with a lever for locking down the amount of extension you need. That collar makes for a very secure hold, so the mount’s adjustment is not likely to change under even very harsh conditions.

The 15509 Portagrip h… [Read more]

    




Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Sticky C-Fit mount holds your phone in style

Editors’ note: Portions of this review were taken from our evaluation of the Bracketron Mi-T Grip, since that device and the TackForm C-Fit are almost identical.

The TackForm C-Fit is a deceptively simple, universal suction-cup mount for smartphones that holds onto almost any smooth surface with its sticky suction cup.

The C-Fit has only one point of articulation at the ball joint, where the gripping claw meets the mounting arm. So, care must be taken to properly orient the base when placing the C-Fit. This can make getting the C-Fit into the perfect position a bit tricky but not impossible in most cases. On the other hand, with only one articulation point and a relatively short arm, the C-Fit is quite stable, exhibiting none of the shakiness and vibration that longer, more flexible mounts do. However, the C-Fit perhaps performs best when it’s not stuck to your windshield.

The C-Fit's gripping claw is able to hold a wide range of smartphones for easy viewing and access.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

The suction cup at the base of the TackForm C-Fit is made of tacky, semi-adhesive material that sticks to most solid surfaces under its own power. This stickiness, combined with the suction generated by locking the C-Fit’s suction cup in place with a leve… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Dashboard mount mightily grips your phone in the car

They all may look more or less the same, but not all smartphone suction cup mounts are created equally. Some are more flexible, more articulated, or offer a longer reach. Others, like the Bracketron Mi-T Grip place a heavier emphasis on strength and stability — when it gets its grips on your phone, it’ll take more than a casual bump to knock the handset loose.

The Mi-T Grip only has one point of articulation at the ball joint where the gripping claw meets the mounting arm. So, care must be taken to properly orient the base when locating the Grip. Additionally, the short, angled mounting arm may place the Mi-T Grip outside of the driver’s reach when windshield mounting on vehicles with steeply raked glass. On the other hand, with only one articulation point and a short arm, the Grip is quite stable, exhibiting none of the shakiness and vibration that longer, more flexible mounts do. However, the Mi-T Grip perhaps performs best when it’s not stuck to your windshield.

The suction cup at the base of the Mi-T Grip is made of tacky, semi-adhesive material that sticks to most solid surfaces under its own power. This stickiness combined with the suction generated by locking the Mi-T Grip’s suction cup in place results in a remarkably tenacious grip on whatever surface I mounted it to. This strong grip is a boon for keeping a smartphone device secured and stable while driving, but it can also be a tad difficult (but not impossible) to remove between trips. A… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Put your phone into ‘car mode’ with these dashboard apps

Sadly, Android's original Car Home app is incompatible with most modern versions of the OS.

(Credit: Google)

My first Android phone, the original Motorola Droid, was one of the first phones to debut Google Maps Navigation. Now, Google knew that this feature would get drivers interested in using their Android phones in the car and that the tiny virtual buttons and shortcuts that worked well when the device was handheld wouldn’t cut it behind the wheel. So, when users popped their Droids into their car docks, they were presented with a simplified interface with large shortcut buttons to car-centric apps, designed for safer use while driving.

Smartphones have come a long way since I retired my Droid, but–with the exception of a few devices with customized OSes–the Car Home feature has largely disappeared from newer Android phones. In a time where drivers are more concerned than ever about distraction behind the wheel, this is a shame.

Here’s where the third-party steps in to help. We’ve rounded up a collection of our favorite dashboard apps that closely replicate (and in many cases, exceed) the functionally of that old Car Home app for both Android. We… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET