Smartphones are made for travel, yet when we’re in our cars we are under great restrictions. Many states have hands-free calling laws, meaning you need a headset or other apparatus to talk on the phone. Other states, reasonably, have passed laws forbidding texting while driving. Even in states that have no such law, texting while driving is extremely hazardous and not recommended.
Many newer cars have smartphone-friendly features already built in. Voice controls and built-in Bluetooth are two of the more useful features. Yet not all new cars have these luxuries. Older cars? Even 2010 models, still very new by car standards, lack many useful smartphone functions.
Want to upgrade your in-car smartphone experience without upgrading your ride? Here are some great accessories. Some are universal, but the specific ones are geared towards the Samsung Galaxy S III, the most popular Android handset.
iBolt charging dock
If you use your phone for navigation, a mount is key. How else are you supposed to keep the GPS in front of you at all times. These mounts can also be useful if you play music on your phone. If you’re looking down to change songs, you’re taking your eyes off the road. Worse, you can set yourself up for a texting while driving ticket, if such laws are enforced in your state.
THe iBolt charging dock combines durability with simplicity. It merely clamps around your Galaxy S III, giving you a clear view of the entire screen. From there it attaches directly to your window. That makes it easy to use your smartphone’s many in-car functions while keeping your eyes on the road.
You can get the iBolt charging dock for $40.
Dual USB charger
What’s better than one in-car USB charger? Two in-car USB chargers, of course. While some cars do come with multiple cigarette lighter adapters, especially nowadays when people use them more for charging gadgets than for lighting cigarettes, most still have only one. The solution is to get a charging adapter that has two USB slots. Griffin brings that with its dual charger.
In the car with your significant other? Charge both of your phones. Want to charge up a tablet while you’re also keeping your smartphone topped up? It might take a while to charge both devices, but if you’re in the car for a while you can manage it. My wife and I recently got one of these, and it has made our lives considerably easier.
You can get the Griffing dual USB charger for $6.60.
Jabra FREEWAY Bluetooth speakerphone
I’ll admit, I’m spoiled. When I turn on my car it automatically connects to my phone via Bluetooth. When calls come in, I hear it through the car speakers — meaning the music cuts out. When I’m done everything picks up where it left off. For those who don’t have that feature, there is the Jabra FREEWAY.
The unit doesn’t quite integrate with your car stereo, but it does contain a crisp, clear speaker of its own. You can make all of your calls hands free with ease. It even clips to your sun visor, so it’s not at all intrusive.
You can get the Jabra FREEWAY Bluetooth speakerphone for $113.95.
Bluetooth FM Transmitter
Want to take your in-car Bluetooth experience to another level? Then check out the GOgroove FlexSMART in-car Bluetooth FM transmitter. It works in a similar manner to other FM transmitters. That is, it takes the signal from your phone and transmits it over a special FM frequency. Your car is then hooked up to your phone, in a similar way to native Bluetooth systems.
With this unit you can play your music and make calls right through your car speakers. Like native Bluetooth systems, the sound cuts out when a call is incoming or outgoing. The only downside is the general lack of sound quality from FM transmitters. The Jabra unit has much, much better sound quality, even though it goes through its own speakers. Still, if you’re not an audiophile, this is a great way to play music from your smartphone in your car.
It’s cheap, too. You can get the FlexSMART in-car Bluetooth FM transmitter for $45.
Perhaps you’re not using your phone as a GPS. Maybe you’re just playing music on it. In that case, where do you put it? In your pocket? If you’re running a wire, that’s unreasonable. Perhaps the best place for your phone is right on your dash. But won’t it slip around? Not with a non-stick mat.
These are simple pieces of rubber that grip both your dash and the phone. Make a sharp turn? Stop short? The mat will hold your phone in place so it doesn’t fly every which way. For simple, everyday use, nothing tops a grip mat.
You can get two car dash grip mats for $5.