Ever since the update to iOS 8, there have been issues with Bluetooth pairing and cars, especially late-model cars. Bluetooth is a favorite experience of car owners because the phone automatically connects to the car and then when the phone rings, the driver can answer the phone through the steering wheel button or the infotainment system. The driver can also make calls using voice or the car’s built-in methods. Bluetooth is tricky technology in that updates can corrupt the Bluetooth signatures. Bluetooth connections are also dangerous when renting a car because your contacts and data can remain in the vehicle’s system.
Update 03/02/2017 – We have a new long list of possible fixes for Bluetooth problems in cars with iOS 10.2.1 and later.
Update: 9/28/2016: We were told by one of our readers that there is an issue with GSM interference that can be fixed by setting the iPhone 7 (AT&T T-Mobile) to Airplane Mode and then turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Please report if it works in the comments below. It would also help to know your carrier. We are working a new report with new fixes.
On September 7, Apple will announce the iPhone 7. We expect that the new iPhone will offer dual cameras, more storage (up to 256), increased cloud service, different colors, 3GB of RAM memory, a faster processor, iOS 10 upgrade, different screen size, water-resistant, SIM card waterproofing, thinner/lighter and removal of the headphone jack/aux port for space to add extra speakers.
The main reason for incompatibility with new smartphones and iPhones with vehicles is that the design cycle for cars is much longer than for smartphones. Cars typically have a five-year design cycle while wireless devices can be designed in one-to-two years. Ownership of cars is much longer than wireless phone ownership which is around three years while cars can be five years or more.
The loss of the AUX jack also known as the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 will affect car owners who have late-model cars that do not have a Bluetooth or USB connection for playing music. If you are currently connecting your iPhone via an AUX port for playing music, you may have to do some research before buying an iPhone 7. Some suggest the best option is to use a Bluetooth to AUX device. The iPhone 7 connects via Bluetooth to the device which is connected to the AUX port.
The better and or additional speaker will mean, that drivers can hear the iPhone 7 better while driving. However, the multiple speakers in cars will trump the sound of the iPhone 7. Having sound coming from two devices is confusing. The best option is usually building something into the car when possible. Before buying an iPhone 7, you may want to consider your connection options with your car. If you have a USB option it is a lot easier, you can copy your music onto a USB drive and play your music from the drive if you are currently using an AUX port for music.
Some predict that instead of the AUX port there will be a lightning to audio earbuds, that will preclude listening to music with headphones while charging the iPhone 7, which can be inconvenient at best. Many believe that Apple will push Bluetooth headphones for the iPhone 7 which could be a double-edged sword. We are hoping that Apple will improve its Bluetooth capabilities. However, past updates have shown some cars are just not compatible with the new iPhone Bluetooth specifications. Apple does what Apple wants to do.
The Bluetooth earbuds are rumored to use Bluetooth LE (BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy) that will ensure great battery life. The protocol is different from Bluetooth specs and will not be compatible with older model cars. In most states you can wear one earbud while driving. A conventional Bluetooth earpiece may be an alternative, if Bluetooth does not work your vehicle after your new iPhone.
iPhone 7 & CarPlay
iOS 10 offers many great features for drivers, improved maps, better Siri communication and CarPlay that will have updated maps with traffic and directions can that be displayed in the instrument cluster. Maps will be updated with parking and places along the route.
If you are fortunate enough to have a newer vehicle such as a 2016 GM any model or many of the 2015/2016 Hyundai’s, or 2016 Kia, etc, the changes in CarPlay should make you happy. You have nothing to worry about because almost all of CarPlay is processed on the iPhone itself and the iPhone connects to the USB port via a lightning connector.
If you do have problems with Bluetooth, CarPlay seems to be an answer although it expensive and tricky. Not all cars are compatible with CarPlay aftermarket infotainment units.
Suggestions for Updating to iOS 10 with iPhone 5-6 + for Car Owners with Bluetooth Connections:
- Don’t update on the first day when network servers are stressed, there is more of chance that one o many, many files will be corrupted.
- Update your iPhone over Wi-Fi or through iTunes to ensure fewer chances of software glitches.
- Wait until you have time to spend diagnosing your vehicle’s Bluetooth settings and backup your apps via iTunes and keep your password someplace safe in case you need to re-install the software.
- Check with your automaker or aftermarket maker for compatibility. With previous updates, Pioneer and other aftermarket suppliers showed on their websites that there was not a software patch available, yet.
- If your iPhone 5-6 S+ is working fine with your vehicle, wait at least a few weeks even as much as a month to upgrade because sometimes there are bugs that are discovered by other car owners.
Through the years we have discovered multiple ways to deal with Bluetooth glitches and cars from all makers.
The first fixes are the “nuke-it” fixes which involve deleting settings and starting over again from scratch. People have gone as far as disconnecting the car’s battery to get Bluetooth functionality to return.
The next possible fixes are shutting off Handoff and to set the car as a headset.
- Enable Airplane Mode, then turn back on Bluetooth & Wi-FI. The bug for music streaming is caused by interference with GSM cellular signals. A reader reports that this works. However in theory in Ariplaine Mode, you won’t be able to make phone calls.
- Disable Handoff on iPhone- Launch the Settings app from your Home screen ▸Tap General. ▸Tap Handoff & Suggested Apps ▸Toggle Handoff to Off.
- Change Bluetooth Settings– Go to General ▸ Accessibility ▸Car Audio Routing ▸ Select “Bluetooth Headset” instead of the default Automatic.
- Restore iOS 10 – some believe that iOS 10 was not installed properly on iOS 7 by restoring iOS 10 through iTunes it may help.
- Downgrade to iOS 9.3.5 – some users have reported that Bluetooth works after downgrading. You must download the IPSW file first before the downgrade. It is kind of tricky, but may work.
- Connect through USB or AUX – for playing music in BMW or other vehicles, you can connect with the AUX adapter or through USB to play music.
- Replace iPhone 7 through warranty – we have one report that when a car owner returned the iPhone 7 and received a new one it worked with his car. However previous reports with early iPhone 7 manufacture dates, there was no difference.
We have comments from readers that there are still Bluetooth problems reported with BMW, Audi, Acura, MINI, GM(Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick), Honda, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Lexus, Fiat, Hyundai, Chrysler, Acura, Mazda and more.
If you have updated to iOS 9.0-9.3-10.00 for iPhone 5/5S/5c 6-6+ 6S/6S+ – 7+ and it fixed or fried your Bluetooth connection or music streaming with your in-car infotainment system, please let us know in the comments below, be sure to note your make, model and year of your vehicle. Ift is alos nice to know your cell phone carrier. We also welcome any solutions you have found worked with your car.
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