How to Connect Your Android Phone to Your Car Audio System

Want to enjoy your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks while you drive? The answer is to hook your phone up to your car. But what is the best way to do this? Listen to What You Want While Driving Most of us enjoy music while we’re driving, but often the radio doesn’t play the tunes that get you rocking. While CDs are a good choice, they scratch easily and you have to swap them often. Fortunately, a smartphone with storage space for MP3s, and online connectivity for streaming is a good alternative. As long as you have a safe place…

Read the full article: How to Connect Your Android Phone to Your Car Audio System

Want to enjoy your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks while you drive? The answer is to hook your phone up to your car. But what is the best way to do this?

Listen to What You Want While Driving

Most of us enjoy music while we’re driving, but often the radio doesn’t play the tunes that get you rocking. While CDs are a good choice, they scratch easily and you have to swap them often.

Fortunately, a smartphone with storage space for MP3s, and online connectivity for streaming is a good alternative.

As long as you have a safe place to mount or place your phone (our list of the best car phone holders should help) and the necessary range (or cable) to send a signal to your in-car audio system, you can use an Android phone for your audio entertainment while driving. After all, if you’re going to use Android to monitor car performance and navigate with GPS apps, then it makes sense to rely on your phone for music in the car too.

Four options will allow you to play music stored on (or streamed via) your Android phone, through a typical car audio system. We’ve also highlighted an option that you should steer clear of…

PSA: Don’t Use Your Phone When Driving!

Although we’re discussing the use of a smartphone while driving, it is important to understand just what this means. While you’re not making calls or texting, the device is still running. As such, taking your hand off the wheel and eyes off the road to change track, find a new radio station, switch audiobook chapter, or load a new podcast is dangerous. It’s even illegal in many areas, just like taking a call or texting.

You should not do anything that distracts you from actually driving.

Wherever the phone is while driving, don’t touch it. If you need to make a change to the music, you should either:

  • Rely on one of the passengers (preferably one in front).
  • Use steering wheel mounted controls, if available.
  • Find a safe place to pull over (bearing in mind the importance of being able to pull away safely later) and make the changes.

For the safest experience, however, just leave the music alone until it’s time to stop. If worst comes to worst, you could switch to broadcast radio.

Old Car? Try an Analog Aux Cable

The most obvious solution is to use an analog cable (like this model from StarTech) connecting the 3.5mm headphone jack on your phone to the line-in port (or aux port) on your car’s audio system. They’re easy to find offline or on Amazon, and simple to connect.

StarTech.com MU3MMS 3 feet Slim 3.5mm Stereo Audio Cable - M/M StarTech.com MU3MMS 3 feet Slim 3.5mm Stereo Audio Cable - M/M Buy Now At Amazon $2.00

For instance, you might have a standard line-in connector mounted on the front of your car audio system (or elsewhere on the center console), providing easy access. Alternatively, you may need to run the cable into the dashboard in order to hook up your phone.

Older audio systems with a cassette tape player allow you to use a cassette adapter. This is a small, low-cost device that connects to the headphone jack on your phone and allows you to play music into the car audio system.

New Car? Use Bluetooth

Many modern car audio systems have Bluetooth as an option for playing music across a short-range wireless network. In order to take advantage of this, begin by activating Bluetooth on the car audio system, making sure that it is discoverable.

You’ll need to check your automobile’s handbook to find how to do this.

On your Android device, open Settings > Device Connection > Bluetooth and set to On. (You can also find your way here by pulling down the notification shade and long-pressing the Bluetooth button.) Wait for the screen to update and display your car audio system, then select it to pair.

Once done, your phone should automatically pair with the car in future. For the best results, your phone should have Bluetooth 4.0 BLE to reduce the impact on battery life. However, even on long journeys (especially if you’re also using Google Maps or some other GPS app), you should keep your phone charged while driving.

No Bluetooth? Try a USB Cable

Like Bluetooth, some modern car stereos have a USB port that you can use to connect external storage devices. This enables you to then browse your library of tunes through the car audio system.

Hooking up an Android phone this way is simple. If a USB cable came with the audio system, then simply connect your phone with a suitable adapter. Otherwise, identify the USB port on the unit and connect your Android device.

Once connected, your Android phone will need switched to storage mode. Drag down the notification bar and tap Charging this device via USB. Switch the Use USB for option to File transfer (differs according to Android version and manufacturer). You will then be able to navigate your Android phone’s library on your car audio system.

The type of USB your phone has will determine what audio files you can listen to.

Micro-USB

The standard data/power cable for Android devices, this should enable you to connect your phone to your car and enjoy your MP3 collection.

However, that’s it. This option is no good if you’re planning to stream music from Last.fm, Spotify, or Pandora, as it is purely for playing back MP3s stored on your device.

USB Type-C

With USB-C, there’s a good chance that the connection will support audio (some earlier examples of the connection do not, however). As such, you may be able to connect your USB-C cable from your phone to the USB port on your car’s entertainment system and enjoy streamed audio as well as MP3 data files. You’ll find the right USB-C cable on Amazon.

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Last Resort: FM Transmitter

If Bluetooth isn’t an option for you, consider an FM transmitter.

This is a device that connects to your phone and broadcasts (over a very short distance) to your car stereo. Switching to the FM band on the radio should then let you wirelessly enjoy the audio playing on your phone. Some FM transmitters connect to your phone’s headphone jack, while others rely on your phone’s Bluetooth connection, essentially giving your car radio Bluetooth capability. Either way, most require constant power from your car’s charger

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Smartphone design differs considerably between manufacturers. As such, you should take the time to find a unit that works well with your device.

What About an FM Transmitter App?

You might be tempted to try the FM transmitter approach using an app.

However, we would strongly recommend against this. Our research reveals that such apps are almost always adware, and Android devices don’t ship with the necessary hardware to broadcast on the FM band.

Indeed, apps listed as “FM transmitters” on Google Play are very poorly rated, a situation that doesn’t change until legitimate streaming apps (with no transmission feature) begin to appear in the search results.

In short, FM transmitter apps are at best a waste of time, and at worst scams.

Let Your Phone’s Audio Entertain You While Driving

With the wealth of ways for playing music in your car from an Android device, more and more people are opting for Bluetooth or FM transmitters.

But you also have the option of USB cables and 3.5mm audio cables, just in case. This last option also includes the increasingly rare cassette tape adapter.

Until all cars ship with Android Auto as standard, these are your best options (don’t forget you can use Android Auto now). Wirelessly connecting your phone to your car is easy and convenient. In fact, they only real problem is that you have two volume control options to keep track of.

Read the full article: How to Connect Your Android Phone to Your Car Audio System

What’s the Best GPS Tracker for Your Car?

best-gps-tracker-car

Want to always know where your vehicle is? You need a car GPS tracker! This is not the same thing as a navigational GPS. All GPS trackers share the common function of broadcasting your vehicle’s GPS coordinates periodically, usually to a web browser or smartphone app. While you can use a smartphone as a tracking device, standalone trackers have several benefits. We’ll show you the best US GPS trackers for various use cases, plus an option for UK readers. Note: We do not condone the abuse of this technology for non-consensual spying or tracking against someone’s will. 1. Best Overall…

Read the full article: What’s the Best GPS Tracker for Your Car?

Want to always know where your vehicle is? You need a car GPS tracker! This is not the same thing as a navigational GPS.

All GPS trackers share the common function of broadcasting your vehicle’s GPS coordinates periodically, usually to a web browser or smartphone app. While you can use a smartphone as a tracking device, standalone trackers have several benefits.

We’ll show you the best US GPS trackers for various use cases, plus an option for UK readers.

Note: We do not condone the abuse of this technology for non-consensual spying or tracking against someone’s will.

1. Best Overall Car Tracker
Optimus 2.0 Portable GPS Tracker

Optimus 2.0 Portable GPS Tracker for Car

GPS Tracker - Optimus 2.0 GPS Tracker - Optimus 2.0 Buy Now At Amazon $59.95

The Optimus 2.0 Portable GPS Tracker has been around for years. While several competitors have come to market, it still stands as the best all-round car GPS tracker you can buy.

At just 3 x 1.5 x 1 inches, and weighing 3.3 ounces, the tracking unit is small enough to place anywhere in your car inconspicuously. For external attachment, you can purchase a separate weatherproof magnetic case.

Optimus claims battery life of up to two weeks due to a built-in motion sensor that switches the unit between standby and operation modes to conserve power. The company requires a monthly subscription of $20, which puts it in the middle of the road regarding price. You can cancel the subscription any time, and the company’s promise of “no hidden fees” appears to check out based on customer reviews.

Updating every 60 seconds, the tracker works in conjunction with Google Maps. You can set up alerts via text message or email for unexpected motion, speeding, or leaving a geofenced area you define. Optimus also has an app for Android and iOS that provides all these functions in one place.

As an extra security bonus, an SOS button on the unit will alert chosen users of the its position and time of activation. For an all-round, mid-priced tracker, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better option than this.

2. Best Hidden GPS Tracker
SpyTec STI GL300 Mini

SpyTec STI GL300 Mini GPS tracker for Car

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Long considered the best option in consumer GPS vehicle tracking, the SpyTec STI GL300 Mini is still among the most popular. It’s slightly cheaper than the Optimus 2.0, but comes with a more expensive subscription of $25 per month. However, the SpyTec model has a few distinct features that set it aside.

Anti-theft trackers are much like hidden home security cameras: they need to remain undetected to work to their full potential. At just 2 x 1 x 0.8 inches, this tiny tracker is perfect for hiding in a hard-to-find area of your vehicle.

SpyTec also provides a weatherproof magnetic case for hiding in the vehicle undercarriage. Motion sensor-based power saving provides battery life of up to two weeks.

The STI GL300 provides the same functionality as its competitors, including alerts, geofencing, and integration with Google Maps. For many years there were no native apps for this tracker, though a SpyTec iOS app is now available.

Alongside the base subscription, tiered monthly options at $35 and $45 increase the location updates from every 60 seconds to 30 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively.

If you are looking for a small tracker for multiple uses and don’t mind paying a higher monthly fee, the SpyTec STI GL300 Mini could be what you are looking for.

3. Best Free GPS Tracker
Automatic PRO AUT-350

Automatic PRO AUT-350 GPS Tracker for Car

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The Automatic PRO AUT-350 tracking unit might just be the most high-tech on our list. While providing all the same functionality as the others, it attaches to the OBD port in your car and can give basic car diagnostics and smart home integration.

Surprisingly, Automatic’s service is free for the first five years of use, though the initial high cost of the unit may put some people off.

The real draw with Automatic comes not only from the lack of subscription fee, but the modern approach the company brings. The Automatic App links up with IFTTT, Google Home, Nest, and a whole host of other smart apps. One simple use case would be to trigger IFTTT-compatible Philips Hue bulbs to light your home before you arrive.

For a modern approach to the GPS tracker designed with automated lives in mind, Automatic Pro is worth a look.

4. Best GPS Tracker for Parents
MOTOsafety OBD GPS

MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker Device with 3G GPS Service Locator, Real-Time Teen Driving Coach, GPS Tracking & Vehicle Monitoring System, MPVAS1 MOTOsafety OBD GPS Tracker Device with 3G GPS Service Locator, Real-Time Teen Driving Coach, GPS Tracking & Vehicle Monitoring System, MPVAS1 Buy Now At Amazon $24.98

The MOTOsafety OBD GPS has two motivations in mind. First, it’s a hands-off approach to teaching teen drivers. Second, it allows parents to keep tabs on where their child is driving and how fast. Available as an OBD attachment or a hardwired box, it can also track basic car maintenance and alert when something may need a review or replacement.

Along with providing updates every minute when the engine is on (hourly when off), the MOTOsafety tracker offers a variety of useful information for parents.

Route tracking is available through a browser or the MOTOsafety app for Android and iOS. You can also use geofencing to alert when the vehicle enters or leaves specific areas, and the route replay function shows detailed analysis of trips.

Perhaps most crucially for parents is the option to set up alerts for telltale signs of dangerous driving. These include speeding, excessive braking, and rapid acceleration. With a cheap initial outlay and a monthly subscription of $20, the MOTOsafety ODB GPS can provide peace of mind to any worried parent.

5. Best Mileage Tracker
Mileage Ace Pro

Mileage Ace Pro - Trusted GPS Mileage Tracker with Cellular Uploading - Automatic Electronic Mileage Log + Real Time Vehicle Tracker Mileage Ace Pro - Trusted GPS Mileage Tracker with Cellular Uploading - Automatic Electronic Mileage Log + Real Time Vehicle Tracker Buy Now At Amazon $46.89

While many GPS trackers have security in mind, those who travel a lot for work require something more specific. Accurate mileage records are essential for companies and employees alike, and the Mileage Ace Pro is still among the most trusted on the market.

The combined monthly subscription and daily cell cost of running the Mileage Ace Pro is under $20. This unit receives power via a provided USB adapter. With onboard buttons for designating when business trips start and end, it allows hands-on control for accurate readings.

All logging is automatic, easy to export from the web interface, and according to Mileage Ace, “IRS trusted.” If it matters to you, Mileage Ace is an entirely US company with US-based customer service. For a well-respected distance tracker known for reliability, this is your best option.

6. Best GPS Tracker for Business Fleets
Geotab GO8

Designed as a scaling solution for businesses of different sizes, the Geotab GO8 provides fleet security in several ways. Alongside detailed GPS tracking, the G08 attaches to the OBD port of vehicles. This provides further information ranging from car health to driver habits.

Geotab does not list pricing on itswebsite, opting instead for individual quotes by appointment. For a well-trusted modern solution for fleet management, Geotab does it right.

7. Best UK GPS Tracker
TKSTAR Mini

TKSTAR Mini GPS Tracker for Car UK

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The majority of the tracking market lies in the US, but the UK has several similar systems in place. A good all-rounder for UK users is the TKSTAR Mini.

One of many similar designs, the TKSTAR has the added advantage of being rugged, weatherproof, magnetic, and capable of taking any UK sim card. This gives the user a variety of options for payment plans. The claimed battery life of 90 days is especially impressive.

Given the open nature of this tracker and its price, along with impressive reviews, it’s a good bet for our UK readers.

Get a Car GPS Tracker for Peace of Mind

In an age when you can track your every movement from your iPhone, dedicated GPS units may seem redundant.

But a dedicated GPS tracker is worth the investment thanks to its range of features and ability to help you recover your car. It’s one of many awesome car gadgets you should have.

Read the full article: What’s the Best GPS Tracker for Your Car?

The Best Airbnb Clones for Cars, Boats, and Other Rental Services

best-airbnb-clones

There are plenty of benefits to renting your next vacation stay through Airbnb, but that’s not the only peer-to-peer service that makes rentals easy. You can use these Airbnb-like alternatives for renting cars, office space, boats, and much more. Airbnb for Cars ZipCar requires a monthly membership fee. Car2Go’s selection is limited. And standard car rental services are often inconvenient. With peer-to-peer sharing sites that operate like Airbnb, you only pay for the car rental when you need it, and they also have a wide variety of car types and makes. Two of the larger sites—GetAround and Turo—cover insurace, and…

Read the full article: The Best Airbnb Clones for Cars, Boats, and Other Rental Services

There are plenty of benefits to renting your next vacation stay through Airbnb, but that’s not the only peer-to-peer service that makes rentals easy.

You can use these Airbnb-like alternatives for renting cars, office space, boats, and much more.

Airbnb for Cars

ZipCar requires a monthly membership fee. Car2Go’s selection is limited. And standard car rental services are often inconvenient.

With peer-to-peer sharing sites that operate like Airbnb, you only pay for the car rental when you need it, and they also have a wide variety of car types and makes.

Two of the larger sites—GetAround and Turo—cover insurace, and GetAround provides 24/7 roadside assistance. Turo provides roadside assistance only with select trips.

GetAround

GetAround listings include information on etiquette (Is the car pet-friendly for example?), and of course the typical Airbnb type features that you’ll find in the car.

Where is it available? Get Around is available in only six US cities: San Francisco, Berkley, Chicago, Oakland, Portland, and Washington D.C.

What are the rental options? You can rent cars for as little as $5 per hour. The longer you rent a car, the cheaper the hourly price is.

What types of cars are available? You can rent SUVs, coupes, sedans, minivans, convertibles, hatchbacks, pickup trucks, and cargo vans. GetAround also offers electric cars including Teslas.

How does search work? The primary search function on GetAround relies on location. You can search for cars available in your location and then filter results by price range, car make, car category, car class, and, transmission.

What are the limitations? While you can rent by the hour or the day, some cars have a minimum number of hours for a rental (e.g. two or four hours), but there are cars available to rent for just one hour if that’s all you need.

Turo

Turo listings are accompanied by info about the cars’ features and extras. You can also see info on the car owner’s response rate.

It’s also worth noting that Turo will check your auto insurance score before granting you access to the site.

Where is it available? Turo is available in far more places than GetAround, serving 5,500 cities and 300+ airports across the US, Canada, Germany, and the UK.

What are the rental options? Turo rentals start at $10 per hour and up. The longer you rent the car, the cheaper the per hour rate becomes. For an added $10 fee, Turo car owners can bring the car to you.

What types of cars are available? You can rent sedans, SUVs, minivans, trucks, and vans.

How does search work? You can search cars by location, after which you can use a filter to narrow results by price range, features, vehicle type, make, year, number of seats, categories (elite, upscale, fuel sippers etc.), colors, and transmission.

What are the limitations? Some cars have a mileage limitation. If you exceed that mileage, you’ll be charged per mile at a rate determined by the car owner.

Airbnb for Boats

Airbnb itself does have listings for houseboats, but if you want a wider selection, you might want to check out boat-specific sites.

These sites aren’t just for swanky yachts. You can also use them to rent jet skis, kayaks, and of course, houseboats.

BoatSetter

Boatsetter

BoatSetter listings include features for each boat, reviews, and how many people are viewing the vessel. Features include capacity, boat rules, response rate, and response time.

And if you have no boating experience—not to worry. BoatSetter rentals can also come with a captain who will manage the sailing, while you enjoy your day out on the water.

Where is it available? BoatSetter is available in 2,100+ cities worldwide.

What are the rental options? You can rent boats for half a day (which can run about four hours), for a full day, or for several days.

How does search work? When searching for a boat on BoatSetter, you’ll start by entering your location, party size, and trip date. You can filter your search results by specific activities: fishing, sailing, water sports, cruising, and celebrating.

You can also filter by power vs. sail. And that’s not all—you can narrow search results by price, size, features, and categories (jet ski, schooner, catamaran etc.).

GetMyBoat

GetMyBoat also offers the option of booking your rental with a captain.

Where is it available? GetMyBoat is available in 184 countries worldwide.

What are the rental options? You can rent a vessel per hour or per day. In addition to a rental fee, you’ll also have to pay a service fee.

How does search work? Search begins with location, and then you can filter your search results by minimum and maximum prices, minimum and maximum capacity, availability of a captain, listing type (e.g. pontoon, jet ski, day sailer etc.), features, and if you’re knowledgeable, you can even narrow your results by make and model.

Airbnb for Office Space

Coworking spaces are quite common across the United States, and beyond. Some companies offer office space nationwide, but you should also look into your own local options. Coworking search engines like Coworker can take the hard work out of it.

There are popular options like WeWork which is available across the US and in over 20 other countries worldwide, but you have to pay a hefty monthly fee. Instead, why not find a desk in an office space that you can use whenever you need to, without having to pay a membership fee?

LiquidSpace

LiquidSpace is a membership free option for finding working space to rent for your ad-hoc use.

Where is it available? LiquidSpace is available in 1,150 cities in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

What are the rental options? You can rent spaces by the hour or by the day. If you rent for a full day, the hourly price goes down. (Some locations are available only by the day.)

How does search work? As with most of these sites, a search begins with location. You can then filter your search results by dates and times, neighborhood, space type (desk, office, suite), price range, capacity, environment, and amenities.

ShareDesk

airbnb alternatives for other kinds of rental needs

ShareDesk allows you to rent just a desk in a working hub or a private office. They also offer options for meeting rooms,

Listings include features and amenities, but there are no reviews on the listings.

Where is it available? ShareDesk is available at over 4,500 locations in 4,500 venues in 440 cities across 70 countries. Some cities (like New York for example) have far more options than other cities (like Washington DC).

What are the rental options? You can rent a desk in a public working space or hub, conference space, and in some locations, can find rentals suitable for executive level meetings.

How does search work? You begin a search by location and office type (meeting spaces or working spaces). You can then filter your search results by term (hourly, daily, or monthly), price range, dates, and venue category (shared, hub, pro, and exec.)

Croissant is another option for working spaces, but does include a membership fee, albeit at a much cheaper rate than WeWork. And PivotDesk also makes it easy to find office space, but the rentals are only available on a monthly basis.

Airbnb for Parking and Storage

There are other Airbnb like sites popping up for all kinds of services. If you’re looking for an Airbnb for parking, there are a few sites that are beginning to fill that space.

Pavemint is available as an iOS app to help you find parking spaces in the Los Angeles area.

Parqex is available as an iOS and Android app, and features parking listings in several US cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Washington D.C.

If you’re looking for storage space, rather than pay around $100 a month for a small space, you can look for peer-to-peer options using sites like Neighbor and Spacer (which also includes parking spaces).

Other Peer-to-Peer Rental Services

There are plenty more peer-to-peer rentals worth considering. Sites like Zilok are a rental marketplace for just about anything you might be looking for including computers, cameras, and gaming consoles. To rent an item through Zilok, you’ll have to pay a security deposit you’ll get back once the item is returned to its owner.

If you’re looking for a “rental” for your furry friend while you go out of town, Rover makes it easy to find welcoming homes for your dogs.

If you’re looking for photographic equipment, FatLama is an option worth considering—or if you prefer to rent from a company, take a look at BorrowLenses. Indeed, all photographers should consider renting before buying.

Read the full article: The Best Airbnb Clones for Cars, Boats, and Other Rental Services