After our eight-year-old Ford Taurus bit the dust, Barbara and I bought a 2012 Toyota Camry. I love the car, and I’m still learning its ins and outs. In particular, I have been pleasantly surprised by its electronic capabilities, especially in the audio system. The other day I happened to answer a call on my iPhone as I was approaching the car, so I continued talking, put my key in the ignition, and started up the engine. After a brief pause, with no further action on my part, I was astonished to find that I was hearing the other end of the conversation through the car’s speakers, not through my phone. And my voice was being picked up by the car’s microphone, not the phone’s. It was all through the magic of Bluetooth, of course, but I never expected it to happen seamlessly and automagically.
So then I tried the same thing with listening to an audiobook that was on my iPhone. Usually I pull the iPhone out of my pocket and use the confusingly named “Music” app (formerly the equally confusingly named “iPod” app), but this time I just pressed Audio on the Camry’s dashboard. Immediately it gave me a choice of AM, FM, and iPod (there we go again). So I chose the third option, and it started playing my audiobook, from exactly the point where I had left off. Furthermore, all the necessary controls were there on the screen in the car, obviating the need for pushing iPhone buttons while driving (clearly a bad idea). When I returned to the iPhone later, the audiobook was newly at the point where I had left off in the car.
Then I tried initiating a call from the dashboard, and sure enough I could do so, with all the phone’s contacts available without touching the phone. But I couldn’t select whom I was calling — or press buttons on the numeric keypad — while the car was moving. This is another good safety feature. When I came to a halt at a red light, I could choose my contact, and then I proceeded with a nice hands-free conversation as I was driving. I needed the keypad, which I could use at a stop sign.
Finally, I was pleased to see that I could monitor tire pressure and average gas mileage on the dash.
All this is probably old hat to my tech-savvy students. I guess I’m just behind the times, as it was wonder after wonder for me.