Smartphones make great media devices, housing tons of music (and even more in the cloud) that you can take on the go. Having access to that music can mean the difference between a nerve-racking commute and one full of chill tunes and good vibes, but unless you own an iPhone it can be hard to find quality accessories to interface a handset’s audio player with your car stereo. HTC is making an attempt to solve that problem with the introduction of a new Bluetooth dongle here at Mobile World Congress 2012.
The device itself is tiny, about the size of a thumbdrive, and features only a port for charging (microUSB) and buttons to power on and pair with an Android smartphone. The business end sports a 3.5mm jack that can plug into the auxiliary port on a car stereo. Yes, you will need a stereo that features such a connection and the ability to select to play music from an auxiliary source, but the functionality has become fairly commonplace and is more likely to be found in most car stereos than a Bluetooth receiver. The use of a 3.5mm jack also means this device will technically be compatible with any stereo, whether it is in a car or not.
Set up is as easy as pairing the device and plugging in. Playback is still controlled from your phone, and in this case HTC has provided an updated interface for their new One series of phones. Maps and navigation are available from a docked mode as well as your full music library and a tuner for finding internet radio stations. The UI always presents playback controls for music as well as current track information, making it easy to pause or skip a song without moving away from a navigation screen.
HTC’s Bluetooth audio dongle is a great idea and addresses a very real problem, but it isn’t an all-encompassing solution. While the equipment needed to take advantage of audio streaming is becoming common, not every car will feature a stereo that can easily take advantage. On the other end, because the device uses Bluetooth it shouldn’t be limited to only HTC’s phones, making it appealing to a wide audience. No pricing or release date has been announced, but expect to see this later in the year.