Cars! Pairing Mercedes with iPhone

Bluetooth is a standard feature on Mercedes’ COMAND system, allowing owners of many phones to use the dashboard’s phone keypad to make calls. SMS messaging will be introduced some time down the line, too.

But we’ll admit that trying to set it up was a stumper. First blaming the car, we soon found that the failure lived at the intersection of our own stupidity and an unusual UI choice by Apple. President and CEO of Mercedes R&D, North America, Johann Jungwirth, shows here how to pair an iPhone with the Mercedes 2010 E Class.

Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz is a sponsor of BBG. Last week, we drove the new E-Class and were the first bloggers or journalists to get a look inside their North American R&D lab. We’re writing a series of posts about the tech we saw there; Mercedes-Benz has no editorial involvement in these items.

To pair an iPhone with a Mercedes, you have to go through an additional step on the iPhone. Most Bluetooth-compatible phones are recognized by the vehicle in one step without the need to authenticate manually on the phone end, but iPhones behave differently.

The user must open “settings,” then “Bluetooth,” and finally select the Mercedes-Benz vehicle as a device to pair with. After that step is completed, the vehicle can pair with iPhone for hands-free operation while inside the vehicle. The vehicle will then recognize the iPhone as you approach the vehicle, as soon as you’re within Bluetooth range.

Music features, however, are reserved for direct cable connections with iPhones and iPods: you have to leave the phone in the glove box, too, where the iPod and AUX ports are.

MP4: Download

More info is at Mercedes-Benz’s website.

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14 Responses to Cars! Pairing Mercedes with iPhone

  1. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    Audio over Bluetooth (A2DP) is great if all you want to do is play music, and have the device in your hand to choose what to play. I have a Bluetooth receiver on my home stereo. I can be listening to my iPhone as I walk in the door, turn on the stereo, and playback swtiches from the earbuds to the stereo just like that. I can stream the audio from my desktop or laptop as well (and control them with the Remote app if I want)

    Plenty of cars and aftermarket car stereos support A2DP, and as long as you have a car charger on your device (audio streaming eats battery) you’re good to go.

    However, controls are limited to play/pause/FF/REW. A2DP doesn’t support is browsing your library, now playing info, etc. That’s why ‘iPod Compatible’ car stereos use the dock connection.

    GRIMC – You can replace the whole OEM stereo with a DVD/Nav system for that price, especially if you install it yourself. Crutchfield is the way to go, they give you free installation hardware and howtos.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s probably licensing reasons: the phone manufacturers probably can’t do it even if they want to. iTunes especially, it’s all a giant clusterfuck of contracts.

  3. sworm says:

    How fantastic.

    The day is coming that mercedes will invent a bluetooth interface that sends reminders to occasionally keep your eyes on the road.

    You know, to minimize the amount of children squashed by people who have important phone calls to make.

    I hope it also supports twitter. Useful to leave your contact details when you leave the scene, you know – because you’re too busy to stop.

  4. Neil Jackson says:

    what will they think of next!?!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you can finally import your contacts from your iphone. My 2008 E supported pairing but getting contacts in the cars COMMAND was a pita.

  6. First of all, I am not really a fan of Benz adding (or encouraging) another distraction to drivers that will get their attentions partially off the streets. Next, I think that though it is great that this is introduced now as something that is standard to this Class, this is not really something new at all. Ford has already been in this path since it paired up with ipods a couple of years ago. What would be amazing is if they can get the wires off and pair the music functions of the phone with the car via Bluetooth as well.

  7. Xeni Jardin says:

    Hahahah! Around 1:30 you can totally see the moment where I realize – with horror – that for the purpose of this demo, my personal contacts from my personal iPhone are being copied over to the R&D lab’s test vehicle. I never realize my face broadcasted “ZOMG THEY BE STEALIN MAH DATA!!!” so clearly.

    Mr. Jungwirth was totally cool, an engineer’s engineer in the finest sense of the word.

    And, yes, we did erase my data from the test vehicle. I THINK.

    That was ONE SWEET RIDE, btw. No I was not paid to type that. 10+ yr loyal Mercedes driver here.

  8. liquide says:

    Every phone should require a real pairing and you should never use an all 0000 password. It’s just a wee bit too easy to eavesdrop on conversations:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c-jzYAH2gw

  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    I hear half of the R&D lab is already aboard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s wild casino yacht thanks to your splendid contact list.

  10. Rob Beschizza says:

    Yeah, it needs music over bluetooth for sure. That’s the whole point, right?

  11. Xeni Jardin says:

    @Rob: me and Ahmedine-rad are Facebook pals.

  12. Xeni Jardin says:

    @Auto Parts Dude:

    1) This was NOT presented as a NEW feature in the 2010 Mercedes vehicles. It’s been around for a while. We’re focusing on pairing with iPhone because so many Mercedes drivers – myself included – were stumped on how to pair iPhone with the cars.

    2) M-B are exploring a lot of interesting info/tainment features for future vehicles. They are ALSO introducing usability limitations so that some of those features are not available while you’re driving (ie, video only when vehicle is stopped).

    3) I can’t address why music over bluetooth is not an option at this time, but I wonder if bandwidth or interference possibilities are at issue. Interesting questions.

  13. mudpup says:

    Someone steals your Mercedes, and gets all your contact and calendar info with the car… sweet.
    Going out of town next month they will be stopping by to clean your house.

  14. grimc says:

    @xeni & anon anon

    Lots of phones and carriers support A2DP (stereo bluetooth), but don’t say much about it. My 4 y/o cheapo Sony Ericsson does A2DP–SLoG it does me though, because my Audi’s bluetooth system has no way of processing and playing it. I think it’s possible that car markers know that they can make a lot more in parts and labor for a physical connection than a minor hardware/software upgrade. Last I checked it was $500 to get an OEM iPod dock installed. Shyyeah.

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