Alpine Electronics became the first aftermarket company to announce a wireless CarPlay deck, the iLX-107, which can fit in just about any car.
No longer must you plug your iPhone into the car radio to get CarPlay’s simple-to-use interface. The radio will recognize the phone in your pocket or purse when you enter the car and launch CarPlay automatically via WiFi 5.4 GHz.
There is an initial handshake the first time you use the phone with the radio. On the first use, you plug in the phone and then “accept” the wireless “request” on the phone. After that an automatic wireless connection is established when your phone is in range of the car (a range similar to that of a home WiFi router).
The iLX-107 is a CD-less deck with a 7-inch screen and AM/FM radio. Its 5GHz WiFi band minimizes interference with other WiFi devices.
Since the iLX-107 has no disc mechanism, its chassis is only 3 inches deep so it may be installed in many vehicles.
Availability could begin as early as February, with a manufacturer’s suggested price tag of $900.
Alpine said that part of the challenge of developing the radio was finding a way to automatically disconnect it from the home WiFi network (if the car is the garage or driveway), so it can switch to WiFi for car use. Alpine said it achieved that by using Bluetooth. When the radio turns on it sends a signal to the phone so it knows to disconnect from the home WiFi system.
The unit can pair with up to 4 different smartphones.
Alpine’s Steve Brown said, “The wireless CarPlay experience with the iLX-107 is the same as with any CarPlay radio. You don’t give up anything or lose anything.”
He added with the new, stricter handsfree law that went into effect in California January 1 (banning the use of handheld phones unless they are used with a voice-controlled device) the new CarPlay radios will have even more impact.