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iOS: Troubleshooting car stereo connections

Symptoms

Learn how to troubleshoot issues you may experience when using an Apple mobile device with your car stereo.

Resolution

Warning: For important information about driving and navigating safely, see the Product Information Guide.
  1. Verify compatibility

    Contact the manufacturer or refer to your car stereo's user guide to see if your device is compatible.

    Note: Some accessories may have limited compatibility.

  2. Update software and firmware if necessary

    Verify that both your car stereo and your device have the latest software versions. Contact the manufacturer to see if any updates are available. If your device does not have the latest version of the iOS, update to the latest software version.

  3. Connect your device

    Verify that your device is on and has music content.

    Connect your device to the cable that came with your car stereo. For stereos that offer both a USB port and a 30-pin connector or Lightning connector:

    • Try the cable that came with your car first if your device has a 30-pin connector
    • Try the USB port first if your device has a Lightning connector

    Note: Some car stereos are not designed to be controlled by Apple devices. When possible, use the controls on the stereo or steering wheel.

Learn more

Charging

Some car stereos might not charge iPad devices. You may see a "Not Charging" message.

In rare circumstances when using the Lightning to USB cable, Lightning to 30-pin Adapter, or Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (0.2m), your device might show a "charging not supported" alert when it is near a full charge. This does not indicate an issue with your cable or device.

Cables and adapters

Some car stereos need a specific cable from the manufacturer to function properly. Please refer to the user guide or contact the stereo manufacturer for more information.

Some accessories that use FireWire instead of USB to charge a device might not charge iPhone 3G or later, iPad, or iPod. You may be able to charge your device using a FireWire to USB adapter.

General browsing and playback

In most cases, if you connect your device through Bluetooth or a 30-pin or Lightning connector, you may be able to control the device using the car stereo. You may attempt to control it with the stereo and directly on your device. When possible, use the controls on the stereo or steering wheel.

If playback does not resume after switching applications or making or receiving calls, you may resume playback using either the accessory or your device.

If you can't change tracks from the device after switching between apps used for playback, try changing tracks from the stereo.

Features and app interaction

Third-party audio apps

Some car stereos play audio from third-party apps in iPod/USB mode and some use a separate application. Please refer to your stereo's user guide for more information.

iTunes Match

You can stream music from iTunes Match over your cellular data network. Data charges will apply. Please check with your carrier for more information on rates.

Notes:

  • You may experience buffering in low-coverage areas.
  • Some car stereos that cache the music library may take up to one and a half times longer to index tracks when iTunes Match is enabled. In some cases, you may see "Loading" in place of the music library or a message such as: "Browse list is being built. Larger media collections can significantly increase the time needed to build the list. Please Wait." You can avoid longer indexing wait times by disabling the Show All Music option in Settings > Music.

Learn more about iTunes Match.

Note: If music plays intermittently while driving, try downloading music using iTunes Match before driving.

Remote user interface

Some car stereos and other accessories that connect with a 30-pin connector allow access to the device's user interface directly from your car stereo. The following may occur when using a remote user interface:

  • Some car stereos can display track information from your device. If your device displays the proper track information but your stereo does not, please contact the stereo manufacturer for additional assistance.
  • When using the remote user interface, ensure that you enter commands through the car stereo and not through Voice Control.

iPod Out

iPod Out is a vehicle-integration system built in to some cars that allows you to use Apple's user interface by pushing video to the car's display screen. When possible, use the controls on the stereo or steering wheel.

iPod Out is not supported over the Lightning to 30-pin Adapter. You should still be able to navigate and play your music using the vehicle's built-in user interface.

Bluetooth

Car stereos with Bluetooth may allow you to pair a device that can play calls or music through the car speakers. Ensure that your car stereo supports the A2DP Bluetooth profile before attempting to pair an iPod with it.

Note: iPhone can also connect using the HFP Bluetooth profile because it uses HFP to make phone calls through your stereo speakers. iPod devices do not have this protocol (because iPod devices aren't phones).

You can check for the A2DP Bluetooth profile by attempting to play music from your iPhone through your stereo speakers using Bluetooth. If calls route to the stereo speakers but music doesn't, it might not support A2DP. Contact the manufacturer or refer to your car stereo's user guide to see if your device is compatible.

Learn more about Bluetooth.

Siri

With Siri-enabled devices, you can control playback with Siri while your device is attached to your car stereo. To talk to Siri, hold down the Home button and you'll hear two quick beeps and see "What can I help you with?" on the screen. You can say "pause" or "skip track". You can also ask Siri to play a specific track, album, artist, or playlist.

Eyes Free mode

In a car that supports Eyes Free, you can begin communicating with Siri by pressing a button on your steering wheel.

Learn more about Siri.

Troubleshooting tips

Beginning playback and controlling music

Some car stereos may require that playback be started or controlled from either the device or the stereo. Ensure that your car stereo is set to the proper input for your device. If it is and you cannot hear sound from your car speakers, try switching to your radio and then back to the proper input.

When using adapters to connect to your car stereo, you may notice variations in audio quality. When possible, use a shorter connection to the car stereo or try a different cable or adapter.

Disconnect and restart

If you are experiencing difficulties with the connection between your stereo and device, disconnect the device, and then power cycle the stereo and your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. When the Home screen reappears, reconnect your device. If you cannot power cycle the stereo, turn the car off and then back on to allow the stereo to power off.

Isolate the issue

Try to reproduce the issue with an identical or similar accessory, if one is available, or test with a second device.

Example: If you hear static coming from the left audio channel, try connecting a different device or try connecting to a different stereo or accessory that connects over the same interface (30-pin or Lightning connector, Bluetooth, or headphone jack).

Restore iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

If you have isolated an issue to the device, restore iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to its factory condition. You should rarely need to use this step with an accessory issue. If the issue affects only a third-party accessory, contact the accessory manufacturer before restoring your iOS device.

If the device does not update successfully, the issue may lie with the device and not with the accessory. See one of the following articles, depending on your device:

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Jul 23, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Jul 23, 2014
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