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Did the iPhone 5 Just Make Your Car Obsolete?

Ford's SYNC Infotainment System

With the introduction of the iPhone this week, your phone probably seems out-of-date, but does the iPhone 5 make your car totally obsolete as well? In short, no. An instant transporter app still has yet to be developed, so you’ll probably still need a car to get around —at least for a while. However, the iPhone 5 may throw a wrench into how you play music from an iPhone on your car's stereo.

You’ve probably heard by now that the all new fifth-generation iPhone, which debuted on Wednesday, will abandon the old 30-pin connector in favor of a newer, more modern eight-pin version called Lightning. 

There is some concern that certain cars with inputs that connect directly to the 30-pin connector would be rendered useless, even if iPhone 5 owners purchase an adapter sold by Apple. “The fact that the Lightning port uses eight purely digital pins calls into question whether the Lightning adapter would actually work with many cars' existing iPod or even USB ports,” writes CNET. They say that certain older BMWs and current Hyundai and Kia models use a specific cable that transmits the analog signal from the 30-pin connector to the car. They continue, saying that “Lightning does not have the capability to send an analog signal, so Apple's adapter will not work in those vehicles.”

Another concern, raised by Kicking Tires, is that for those vehicles where the adapter will work, certain cradles designed to hold an iPhone 4 will not be able to hold the iPhone 5 due to the large size of the adapter.

Kia's UVO Infotainment System

Other sources don’t foresee any major problems connecting the new iPhone with a standard USB port. “The new connector still works with USB ports,” writes Autoblog, “so any automaker that employs such an outlet in its vehicles will have no issue.”

You should also be fine if your car is equipped with an infotainment system with Bluetooth music streaming, such as Ford’s SYNC system, uConnect, found in many Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles and even certain Subaru, Honda, Acura, Kia and Hyundai models.

Beyond that, an auxiliary input jack will still work to play music from your phone, if your car has such a jack. The main drawback of this is that you can’t control the mobile device through the stereo, other than adjusting the volume.

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