Telematics: Getting Your Smartphone to Talk to Your Car
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Telematics: Getting Your Smartphone to Talk to Your Car

You may not know the word “telematics,” but if you’ve been around a car built in the past couple years, you’ve seen this merging of smartphone and infotainment technology. Why is it such a big trend, and how do you get your phone to work with it?

Why Does My Car have to Pretend it’s an iPhone on Wheels?

Modern cars are criticized by reviewers for emphasizing technological features over driver engagement. However, there’s more to this than simply hopping on the tech bandwagon. These days, there’s an ever-growing need to access your phone when you’re driving:


  • Need to find out where you’re going? Open a navigation app.
  • Want to listen to some music? Open a streaming app.
  • Looking for a restaurant or a hotel? Open a travel app.
  • Need to tell someone when you’ll arrive? Send them a text.


Telematics isn’t just about gee-whiz gadgetry, it’s about giving you access to your smartphone in the safest way possible. It lets you use voice commands, touch screens and steering wheel buttons to access the information you need. This cuts down on interaction times so you can stay focused on the road.

Thanks to growing standardization, getting your car and smartphone to talk to each other is easier than ever. Almost all cars support Bluetooth for audio streaming, while newer vehicles work with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Connecting via Bluetooth

Bluetooth can be used to tether the infotainment system to your phone, letting it access mobile data or voice directly.

Bluetooth connections are usually protected by a PIN. This number will be listed in the owner’s manual or will be shown on the infotainment screen when you try to connect. If you’re asked for a PIN and you don’t see one listed, try “0000” or “1234.”

On the phone end, connecting works the same whether you’re using iOS or Android. Open the settings and select “Bluetooth.” Make sure Bluetooth is turned on and your device is discoverable, then find the car or infotainment device on the list of devices. If it isn’t listed, push the “scan” button.

The connection screen should pop up on the infotainment system as soon as you connect your phone. If it doesn’t, select the Bluetooth option from the menu. At this point, you may be asked to type in the PIN.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

These infotainment services use the same basic interface as your phone, so they remain the same across vehicles. Vehicle settings aren’t part of these apps, so you’ll still need to exit the interface to do things like change the climate control settings. Not all apps are compatible with these services, but most of the apps you’d want to use while driving have been ported over.

Some infotainment systems can connect to CarPlay wirelessly, while most need a wired connection. This is supported through a single USB port on the car with the CarPlay logo, connected by a Lightning to USB cable. CarPlay is supported on iOS 7.1 and later and all phones since the iPhone 5. CarPlay will either load automatically or can be launched by selecting the CarPlay logo on the infotainment display.

Android Auto is supported by 5.0 Lollipop and later, although 6.0 Marshmallow or later is recommended. A separate Android Auto app needs to be installed on the phone. Android Auto only connects through USB. An Android Auto logo should show up on the infotainment display, letting you launch the app. Some aftermarket Pioneer head units only support a connection via the USB2 port. Other systems will usually connect using any available USB port.

When Accidents Happen, Go to Merton Auto Body

Using your car’s infotainment system can help you keep your eyes on the road, but that won’t completely prevent accidents. If you’ve been involved in a collision, take your car to Merton Auto Body for collision repair. We have an auto body estimation center that can get work approved by your insurance company immediately. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, and our technicians are ASE certified. This means we have the experience and techniques to repair your car safely and quickly. You can drive up for a free estimate at our Sussex, WI location or visit our website to request an Online Estimate. We proudly service the Waukesha County and surrounding Lake Country areas, including Oconomowoc, Hartland, Delafield, and Pewaukee.



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