Have you ever wondered what is Bluetooth connectivity that many new cars have, and how does this piece of technology work? This cool feature lets you connect your smartphone to your car and integrate them straight into the infotainment system. It is simple to use, as it doesn’t need any wires or cables. Besides increasing the usability of your car stereo, this also improves safety, as you can operate your phone using your car’s built-in controls. This article will bring you up to speed with this handy technology and how to easily connect your phone to your car’s infotainment system using Bluetooth.
What does Bluetooth mean?
Before going over the technical side of the story, we should take a brief look back at the history of Bluetooth and the origins of its unusual name. During the 90s, three IT companies – Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia were working separately on creating technologies that would connect computers and different devices using short-wave frequencies. As their technologies had a similar goal and were close to each other in the final development stages, they decided to unite their effort and develop a single wireless standard instead.
The inspiration for this name comes from a historical person, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, Viking King, who united Denmark and Norway. If looking closely at the Bluetooth logo, you can see that it combines letters H and B in the Nordic alphabet. With one common ‘language’, all devices could communicate among themselves. This practical approach made Bluetooth an instant hit among users and helped it become the connectivity standard we know today.
How does Bluetooth work in your car?
Bluetooth works much like the Wi-Fi network you have in your home. It uses radio waves to send data between devices at short distances. The biggest difference between these two devices is that Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transmit data from your router to your device, while Bluetooth communicates in both directions. This means that two devices with a Bluetooth option can talk and transmit data between each other. Another important advantage is that Bluetooth uses less electrical power than Wi-Fi, as it works on much shorter distances. As a result, your smartphone and other devices won’t drain their batteries as fast as they would if they were using Wi-Fi. Furthermore, Bluetooth can connect several devices at the same time without interference from other wireless items like garage doors or baby monitors.
Inside most modern cars, Bluetooth features come as a part of a stereo system or as a separate, standalone device. In both cases, it will allow you to pair a smartphone and other Bluetooth devices with the infotainment system within your car. Once connected, you can stream music from your smartphone through the car’s stereo system or set navigational points. And as it works in both ways, the car’s infotainment system can access your phone allowing you to take calls using knobs and controls on the steering wheel. You can even mate it to an aftermarket head-up display.
How do I pair my iPhone or Android smartphone with my car Bluetooth?
Connecting your iPhone, Android smartphone, or any other Bluetooth device to a car with this feature is simple. Start by opening your phone going into the settings menu. You will need to find actual Bluetooth settings and make sure your phone is discoverable. Next, turn on the car and press the phone button on the stereo head-unit. It will ask you to add a new device. Back on the phone, you will see the car showing up among available devices.
When selecting to pair with the car, the phone may ask for a PIN that you can find on the head-unit display. After you have entered the PIN and pressed the Pair button, your phone should show up on the head-unit display. This means that your phone is connected and you can stream music or take calls through the infotainment system. You should have to do this procedure only once, as your phone and car will pair automatically every following time. All you have to do is make sure the Bluetooth option on your phone is enabled at all times.
How to connect a phone to the car without Bluetooth?
Now you know what is Bluetooth, how it works and how you can use it to mate your smartphone and other devices to your car’s stereo or infotainment system. However, what if your car doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection? Although you may feel robbed of practical and useful features this technology provides, there are still several options to choose from. One of them is replacing your old stereo unit with an aftermarket one. There is a wide range of reputable manufacturers that offer various head-units. This means you will easily find one that suits your needs. On the downside, aftermarket units that can match the quality of your factory-installed stereo come with a high price tag. And some car models have a stock head-unit with a unique outer shape and size, making the use of a generic unit much harder.
If you don’t want to invest too much money into your car or mess up the dashboard appearance, there are less invasive solutions in the form of various adapters. Some of them will connect to the stereo system using an auxiliary port, giving almost identical options as factory-installed devices. Even if your car doesn’t have the auxiliary port, you can get an adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter. It will pair up with your Bluetooth devices and transmit an FM signal on a certain frequency, which a stereo system can pick up. Most of these adapters have a microphone which means you can also use them for phone calls.
As you’ve seen in this article, Bluetooth is a simple and reliable technology allowing you to connect a car Bluetooth to any smartphone or Bluetooth device, and use it through the infotainment system. Setting up the connection is easy and straightforward, and only need to be set up once. Once set, your phone will pair up with the stereo every time you enter the car. Even if your vehicle doesn’t have Bluetooth capability, several aftermarket options can help you.