Update December, 2010: I now have the Droid X, and am using the Droid X Car Mount. It’s a huge improvement over the Droid Car Mount, because the Droid X Car Mount acts like a true docking station, where you plug your car charger in the Car Mount, and not the phone itself. That way, all you have to do to charge your phone is place it in the Car Mount, and you don’t need to hook up any additional wires – very cool! Otherwise, the functionality is basically the same between the Droid, Droid 2, and Droid X as described below. The Pandora app has been updated a few times in the past few months and seems to work better and with fewer bugs, although is more-or-less the same as when I originally wrote this.
Update Sept, 2010: I replaced the Motorola Car Mount with an aftermarket Panavise one that is much nicer and doesn’t require a suction cup…the suction cup solution didn’t work well for me. Also, the Froyo update really screwed up the Pandora integration, which I’ll comment on more below. Scroll down for more information!
Original Post: I recently picked up the new Motorola Droid for Verizon (review here – I love it), and wanted to integrate it into my car to take full advantage of its built-in Navigation, Music Player, and other commuter-friendly apps (including one to tell you where known speed traps and photo radar is located).
My 2006 A4 has the Bose Symphony II stereo, but no Navigation and no OEM iPod connector either. I don’t really own CDs anymore, so the only music I could really play was standard FM radio. With a nearly 45 minute commute each way, daily, that got tired pretty quickly. I also have a horrible sense of direction, so I was pretty excited about the Navigation too.
The Droid phone has a built-in music player and 16GB of storage for mp3s, but I’m a big fan of Pandora Radio, which is a streaming internet radio that learns what you like and don’t like and customizes radio stations to your liking. It’s really neat. Slacker is another great and very similar product.
Here’s what I bought to fully integrate my Droid:
- Motorola Car Mount (Amazon, see link below)
- Rapid Car Charger (Amazon, see link below)
- Blitzsafe AUDI/AUX DMX V.1B RCA Audio Output – $69 (Enfig)
- Enfig RCA to 3.5mm headphone jack – $3 (Enfig)
Here are links to buy everything you’ll need from Amazon (typically the cheapest and the easiest to order from):
The “Car Mode” in the Motorola Droid Car Mount is pretty slick, which displays a special home screen menu related to navigation and maps, pictured below:
A car charger is a must because the Navigation and the Pandora radio will drain the battery otherwise. I need to find a more clean way to wire it, but having the cable being a curly one instead of a straight wire makes it difficult to hide or tuck in between cracks.
Installation for the Blitzsafe module that adds an extra Audio cable was pretty straightforward – pull out the radio, ground the Blitzsafe module to the back of the radio, plug in the harness, and put everything back together. Enfig has a great DIY Guide to assist with further detail, if you have any trouble. You will need radio removal keys, which run an extra $12 (I’ve heard of people using nail files, but I had a hard enough time with the actual keys so I’m guessing this isn’t fun/easy to do).
Here’s how everything works:
- The phone plays Pandora Radio over the car’s stereo system
- If a call comes in, the music is paused and the ringer comes over the speakers
- Likewise, the music is muted for the turn-by-turn directions with Google Navigation
- Talking on the speakerphone will play the caller’s voice over the radio. They may hear a slight echo since they’ll hear their own voice through the car’s speakers.
- Google Navigation works great – and voice search is awesome. You can tell voice search “Navigate to Home Depot” and it will find the nearest Home Depot and give you turn-by-turn directions there. Once you arrive, it will show you a Street View picture of your destination, so you know exactly what it looks like.
- Like normal GPS, Google Navigation will re-route if you miss a turn, give you voice directions like “turn left in 200 yards” and follows your car on the map with an arrow showing which direction you are going. Unlike some cell phones, this uses actual GPS satellites, it doesn’t triangulate with cell phone towers, so its much more accurate (like a Tom Tom, Garmin, or factory equipped Navigation System). It does load the maps from your phone’s data connection, so that could potentially be a problem if you go out of service range on a long road trip. This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m curious to see what happens when I do. It should still show the arrow from GPS and remember the directions, but it might not load the map showing the streets and everything…
With Pandora playing:
In Navigation mode:
Overall, I’m very happy with it. I wish the wiring were a little more stealth for the charger, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.
Update August 2010
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