I bought a Jeep Liberty in 2006 and toward the very end of deciding its color and the features I wanted (and didn’t want), and almost on a whim, I asked the salesperson to throw-in the Bluetooth wireless hands-free connection. It was about a $250 option that I actually didn’t feel was necessary at the time but I like technology and gadgets and adding it didn’t break the bank. I expected that it would be a fun feature to play around with, but I wasn’t really too hopeful about its usefulness; I figured it would end-up being a novelty.
So now after more than three years of driving the car and using the Bluetooth hands-free feature I can report to you from experience that it’s a life changer (or at least for the part of the time that I spend my life in the car). With Bluetooth, Jeep/Chrysler calls it UConnect, you can setup your hands-free capable cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, etc to automatically connect to the car whenever you turn the key. Gone are the days of untangling wired headsets while driving, searching pockets, or bags, or dashboards for your cell phone when it rings, or worrying about the police when you’re talking on the phone without a headset. You can answer a call without touching the phone, and you can make a call without having to take your eyes off the road to dial a number. (Although I’ve gotten quite good at drive-typing over the years, I think I can thumb-out about 25 words/minute on a Blackberry while steering with a knee.) Having UConnect has definitely changed my driving experience in a positive way, and I mean that with all seriousness since I cruised more than 25K miles/year on average in the Jeep so far.
I recently upgraded my original version (2G) iPhone to the latest iPhone 3GS and I connected the new iPhone to the UConnect in the Jeep and it works great, just like the old iPhone did. But the new iPhone, and really the latest version of the iPhone software, version 3.0, includes a Bluetooth capability that supports wireless stereo headsets. (The technical name of the Bluetooth stereo headset feature is called Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, usually abbreviated A2DP. It’s not proprietary to the iPhone and you might find A2DP on your whatever-model phone if you have a newer one that supports it.)
Based on my experience using Bluetooth hands-free in the car, the wireless stereo headset feature just might be one of the most underpublicized and undervalued features of the iPhone 3.0 software. To check it out I bought a low cost (about $29) Bluetooth stereo headset from Insignia; here’s a link to the model:
Connecting (which the Bluetooth process calls “pairing”) the Insignia headset to the iPhone was a little tricky because you have to press a button, wait for some beep sounds, then some red and blue blinks, and enter a security code into the iPhone, but I followed the directions that came with the headset and it all worked out Ok.
So the cool thing about this now is that you get a wireless stereo headset to listen to your iPod. When I’m commuting (which is over 2 hours/day), or at the gym (which is probably less than 2 hours a week), or other times I use an iPod (listening to audio books or podcasts), it’s wireless and it’s in stereo, and just like in the car there is no more frustration with juggling/finding/untangling or yanking out wired headsets. And the audio quality is really good (especially considering it’s wireless).
Unfortunately the UConnect in my Jeep doesn’t have the right version Bluetooth to do A2DP, but wouldn’t that be awesome to play music wirelessly and in stereo in your car right from your iPhone or iPod. Or wouldn’t it be cool to stream music by Bluetooth directly from your iPod to your stereo at home. I guess that will all be coming in the future.
Although A2DP doesn’t work on an original 2G iPhone, it’s supposed to work on the standard 3G iPhone with the 3.0 software version, so if you have that model try it out.
If you’re wanting to unstress your life in a similar way, here is some more information for you. MacWorld Magazine published a thorough review of A2DP support in the iPhone software update which you can read here at this hyperlink:
And here’s some technical background on the A2DP Bluetooth capability: