The most popular articles on AUTO Connected Car News focus on the recent snafu with Bluetooth connections and in-car infotainment systems from either the upgrade to iOS 8.1 or with new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus models.
When we last combed through the massive comments from our readers, it seemed like the 8.1 update helped with a few new model cars. However, there are still problems reported with BMW, Audi, Acura, MINI, GM(Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick), Honda, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Lexus, Fiat, Hyundai and more.
For those drivers who can’t get their Bluetooth to connect, it has been a nightmare. It is also the first time we’ve seen such rampant hatred for Apple products. Apple support forums continue to show complaints of iPhone 6/6+ or iOS 8.1 issues.
At Telematics West Coast (Day 1, Day 2, Demo 1 Demo 2, Roundup), I asked almost every delegate who worked on in-car system design as well as car dealers and analysts why the recent snafu occurred. The car makers are as frustrated as the car owners with Apple.
UPDATE 8/19/2015: There are reports of Bluetooth problems with iOS 8.4.1 and fixes in iOS 9.
UPDATE 7/05/2015: There are reports of music problems with iOS 8.4 Bluetooth in cars, while one user stated that he can now play music with his iPhone connected to a USB port.
UPDATE 6/07/2015: There are reports that shutting off “Handoff” features helps with Bluetooth connections and iPhones.
UPDATE 5/21/2015: There are now reports that Apple Watches have Bluetooth issues when in cars.
UPDATE 4/12/2015: It seems like it’s déjà vu all over again with the latest update to iOS 8.3 for iPhone 5-6+ and in-car infotainment systems.
UPDATE 4/09/2015: New problems and fixes have been reported for iOS 8.2. Hey Siri functions will change with iOS 8.3. AUTO Connected Car News has now over 1,000 comments details the woes of iPhone owners and iOS 8.Xx.
UPDATE 3/10/2015: Apple issued an update iOS 8.2. It appears to fix some problems with Siri and other USB issues. We have several comments that Siri issues and other Bluetooth issues have been fixed. However, there appear to be new Bluetooth issues. Commenters are saying that you must delete all your devices before reconnecting to Bluetooth again. Now there appears to be an issue with Honda and iOS 8.2…
UPDATE 1/30/2015: Apple issued an update iOS 8.1.3 it appears to not have fixed issues with in-car infotainment systems. Mazda Handsfree compatibility websites show that iOS 8 can’t receive incoming calling with Handsfree connections.
UPDATE 1/22/2015: We have scoured Apple Forums to find even more complaints from car owners and unstable Bluetooth Connections. We have also discovered more information about iOS 8.2 and Bluetooth.
UPDATE 1/20/2014: Your votes enabled Apple’s Bluetooth Snafu to win the Edsel Yugo Award for Biggest Snafu in Connected Car Technology 2014.
Apple Controls it All
iOS is a closed system. If you are a car maker and want to know Apple secrets, you have to pay big time. One delegate who works at a major car maker said, “If we ask for help from Apple the amount of the money we would have to pay would make it impossible to make any car system at all.”
Apple also “bullies” wireless carriers by setting prices and terms for which they can sell Apple products. This system worked fine when it was controlled by Steve Jobs, people trusted him, now the Apple is showing flaws. Apple makes huge profits from people believing that Apple can do nothing wrong and that it offers excellent products.
“I’m sure our engineers are working on the Bluetooth issue right now,” said another HMI designer for a major Asian car maker.
Apple Doesn’t Admit Mistakes
It appears that iOS 8-8.1 has instituted a version of Bluetooth that is not downward compatible. When Apple makes a mistake, they never admit it. The car makers, generally reverse engineer Apple’s code to figure out what to do. It makes it very difficult for the car makers to fix a mistake if it is inherently wrong the Apple code.
Apple Was Pressured to Make a Larger iPhone Fast
Samsung and other Android smartphone makers were gaining market share by making devices with much larger screens. Stock analysts and investors pressured Apple to make the larger iPhone 6-6+ and added features so that Apple would not lose market share. The best season to release a phone is the fall to have products ready in time for the busy holiday buying season when many cell phone contracts are up for renewal. Apple had to release iPhone 6-6+ and iOS 8 in time for the buying season. The due date may have caused it to be released before the code was fully tested and ready.
Car Makers Have Long Life Cycles
The car you buy today, was most likely designed three to four years ago. Cars are owned for longer times than smartphones. The development cycle for phones can be as little as a year, if phones are not downward compatible, the car owner suffers. Car makers are not psychic. They can’t design systems to work with future phones when the phone makers don’t even know what the phone will be like in a few years.
What Car Owners Can Do
Car owners should not assume if a product is made by Apple it will work with their cars. If your current phone works, don’t upgrade the software before checking that it will work with your in-car system. Unfortunately, if you already updated to iOS 8.1, you can’t go back to the previous version of iOS.
Pioneer found some problems with AppRadio and iOS 8. It warned owners of AppRadio systems not to upgrade.
Most of our friends wait before upgrading and often wait six months before buying a new model smartphone, in order for compatibility glitches to be worked out.
You can keep your old phone and switch out the SIM for in-car use, which is pain for now but will work as a temporary fix.
Depending on how old your car is, you can replace the infotainment system and know for sure that your latest phone will work. Most smartphones are now in the realm of $650-750 or more (an iPhone 6 is $649) . For around the same price as a smartphone, you can get a new infotainment system from Kenwood or Pioneer , Alpine or Harman. There are after market kits to make it look like the original.
Installation for a new car system usually around $100. If you have a low-end system already in your vehicle, Pioneer has low-end units for a little as $100 that offer dual-device Bluetooth, when two people are in the car with Bluetooth both pair automatically and the first one to be used, connects.
We also working with a device maker to see if we can find an inexpensive device that will help. See update 1/20/2014.
Apple’s answer to Bluetooth problems is CarPlay that requires a connection with a lightning cable. The only in-car system that works with CarPlay right now is in the new Ferrari. Hyundai is expected to have CarPlay ready for the 2015 Sonata. Other car makers have postponed the delivery of CarPlay. Pioneer and Alpine make aftermarket CarPlay systems. In order for CarPlay to work, the aftermarket system makers have to pay extra for it. Many people don’t like having to plug-in their phones when they enter the car for features to work.
More Bluetooth Blues Tactics
Car owners can continue to complain to Apple. The people who are the most effective at complaining to Apple are shareholders. If you know someone who has influence with Apple stock, they are the ones who carry the clout. Apple has turned into a phone iOS dictatorship, the best way you can combat it is with your money. Many believe that if you are going to pay $650 for a phone, it should work with your $65,000 car.
The only hope on the horizon is that there update is being tested by developer beta testers. Apple does not report what is in the update until it is released. With the last update, the wording stated “Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices.”
We thank our readers who have consistently wrote in the comments what car makes and models have problems with iOS 8.1 or iPhone 6/6+ and Bluetooth, the more people who write comments, the more we can document the problem. When we started the car makers were telling us that they were not aware of the problem. New comments indicate that both car makers and Apple are aware of the Bluetooth problems.
We showed the comments and talked with car makers at Telematics West Coast. We will continue to go to bat for our readers at The Connected Car Expo at the LA Auto Show.
If you have updated to iOS 8.1 or iPhone 6-6+ and it fixed or fried your Bluetooth issues 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 as well as the problem you are experiencing.
Reports from reader comments indicate that only some Bluetooth vehicle connection issues have been helped by iOS 8.1. We have comments that indicate Bluetooth connection problems with 2011, 2013 and even 2014 model vehicles. Read a summary of Bluetooth issues and fixes along with the new “audio-only” connection fix. Read the most popular nuke-it fixes. Consumer Reports rated Lexus and Toyota as the most reliable which related to its infotainment systems.
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