Ken: Ryan is back once again and this time, we’re talking about tech to help the commute…is it safer or easier or what are we doing here?
Ryan: Well, you know, when we commute now, it’s all about our cellphone, right?
Ryan: We have it next to us, we’re looking at it, we’re messing around with it.
Ryan: So a lot of this is how to make it a little safer and a little easier just to commute or take a long trip.
Ryan: So the first one is, let’s say you got a car stereo and it’s got an auxiliary jack in it.
Ryan: But your new iPhone doesn’t have an auxiliary jack for your phone. You can’t plug it anymore. So this is a little Bluetooth dongle. You plug it in to your cigarette lighter, whatever, your little power adapter lighter.
Ryan: It’s also got a USB jack on it.
Ryan: And then you can press this button, connect to Bluetooth, and you got all the, everything going through your phone goes right to, right through your stereo system.
Ryan: And let’s say you have an older car. Like, let’s say like your classic car or whatever and you don’t have a stereo with an auxiliary jack. These are by Jabra. These are little wireless Bluetooth speakers you can have for your phone. And you just press the little button when you wanna mute it or when you wanna turn up the volume or when you wanna talk to somebody. And these range anywhere from $60 to $100. This one over here, that Bluetooth little connector, was 40 bucks.
Ken: Oh, okay.
Ryan: So you can get it at Amazon. Also, if you’ve got an iPhone 7 and you’re trapped in the dongle world, this is by Belkin. Now the interesting thing is if you go to Amazon and look for a little connector where you can get both, Lightning is a connector for your power as well as for your headphones. You’re gonna find a ton of these for like $4 or $5.
Ken: But they’re not good, right? They’re not the right ones, right?
Ryan: They’re not good. As soon as you plug them into your phone, your phone says, “This is not a supported device,” and it’ll shut right off. It won’t even allow you to use it. So you gotta go with an actual supported device and Belkin is a name we know…
Ken: Got it.
Ryan: …and they support it. The other weird thing is, on your headphones, it doesn’t work with the speaker. So if you’re used to, like, talking on your phone through your headset, it doesn’t work anymore. So you gotta be careful with those dongles. It’s not gonna work…
Ryan: …and have power and be able to talk. Last but not least is, this is a really cool little gadget. So you plug in your…you set up your phone.
Ken: Oh, yeah.
Ryan: Now I have a really big phone here and a lot of the little things don’t fit, but this one works perfect for big phones. It’s also got a little extender arm, so if you’ve got a long dashboard, you can set that up. And that’s about 25 bucks. That’s by iOttie.
Ryan: That’s pretty cool.
Ryan: And last but not least, if we go over here to the monitor, you’ll see…
Ken: All right.
Ryan: Of course, this isn’t working very…There we go. We got Waze. Waze is my number one favorite GPS.
Ken: Oh, I do like Waze.
Ryan: The best part is this, is if you’re on a long commute, look at this. I know where all the cops are in case I get in trouble.
Ryan: You know, I need to know where the cops are.
Ken: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ryan: It’s nice to know where they are. Plus, it tells you where red light cameras are.
Ryan: All kinds of great stuff. It’s free. And it also gives you traffic advisories and it’ll reroute you if there’s traffic or a traffic delay. And last but not least, no commute is good without “Star Wars.”
Ryan: So Audible makes a great app. You can download audio books, listen to whatever you want. And of course, you gotta listen to “Catalyst” because before “Rouge One” comes out, you’ve gotta know how the Death Star was built.
Ken: Of course you do.
Ryan: Yeah. So it’s about 15 bucks a month for you to get an Audible account, but it’s free for your iPhone or your Android device.
Ken: Wow, this is all great stuff.
Ken: I feel like your entire segment today, geared directly towards me.
Ryan: Yes, well, you’re traveling.
Ken: I am.
Ryan: We just talked about it. You’re going to Disneyland and then Portland, so you’re gonna need this kind of stuff.
Ken: This is all on me. Ryan, always good to see you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Marianne, back to you.
Marianne: All right.
Americans spend an average of 290 hours each year in their car. So how about some cool gadgets and tech tools to improve your commute? We are going to give you 6 useful gadgets and apps to help you get the most out of those hours behind the wheel – no matter how old your car is!
Smartphone maintenance seems to be a big component of commuting happiness. These days smartphones are how we get where we are going (GPS), how we stay entertained – music, podcasts, audio books, and how we stay connected with others. All of these uses are about safety & convenience in some manner.
If your vehicle has a functioning AUX jack you can use the Kinivo Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit, available for $40. It connects to your car’s stereo system via the AUX jack. You can stream from any Bluetooth capable device, a microphone is in the mounting circle. Once it’s installed, your car’s stereo will project the audio from your device. It allows:
• Hands free calls
• GPS voice prompts
• Play music, audio books, podcasts – all through your car’s sound system.
For power, the device plugs into the cigarette lighter – it has a USB port so you can still charge your phone! The device also lets you play, pause & track change – all on the disc for one-touch control.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a functioning AUX jack, you can buy the Jabra hands-free speakerphone for between $60-100. This device acts as a speakerphone with a one-touch call answer function.
For those of us that still use a standard headset while traveling, there’s a lot of frustration over not being able to charge & have headphones at the same time with the new iPhone. Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar fixes this problem and is available for just $40. It’s a shame that you need an adapter now to do it (Thanks Apple!) but this product is just an excellent fix. On a longer commute your wireless headphones can fail, also most of us charge phone in the car. This Belkin adapter lets you charge and listen! Do you still have regular AUX headphones? You will still need an AUX to Lightning jack adapter. A limitation to this device is that it doesn’t support data transfer or double charging. This is just made specifically for those of us that want to charge & listen to headphones at the same time. Thank’s Belkin!
If you use your phone for GPS, to see the map you’re holding your phone in one hand, STOP IT! It’s not safe! Get yourself the iOttie Easy One Touch 3 car mount for just $25. This mount is universal, works with just about any size phone. In just one touch you can get your phone in & out. It has an easy angle adjustment mechanism, space to accommodate your charging cable and a strong grip stays put. If it becomes a little less sticky over time, you can refresh with a little water – or you can replace the adhesive. It doesn’t leave a mark on your car and there’s no irritating rattle or obstructed vent like with vent mount.
Here are two apps we use daily that we think are just the best!
Waze is free for iPhone, Android and Windows phones. Our favorite GPS because it’s a community-based traffic & navigation app. Other drivers share real-time traffic and road info which can alert you to CHP (or your local state highway patrol!), accidents, road work, etc.. so you can avoid trouble spots. You can contribute info hands-free while you drive and earn points. Community-edited maps integrate new communities, road changes more quickly than standard maps, you also earn points for providing this information. Another neat feature is community-shared gas prices to get you to the cheapest station ASAP.
Audible costs around $15/month and lets you download and listen to audio books. It makes a nice change from the same old music on those longer trips! You get one book/month with your membership and 30% off purchase of additional books.
Buying a standalone audio book is much more than $15, so this represents excellent value. Download the audio books to your device & listen offline. This is the only way I get in any “reading” these days!
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.