The iPad car install is a trend that's not going away anytime soon. The tablet makes for an interesting candidate when considering options for an in-car navigation system. With features like Siri and built-in internet connectivity the iPad smashes any other navigation systems on the market today.
In this article we are going to answer the most common questions that we get on a daily basis. We will also discuss things to consider when choosing which accessories are right for your car. This article is meant to serve as a reference for DIYers and shops alike. The methods discussed here come from our years of research and much trial and error. If you are working with a local shop for your tablet installation be sure to bring this article to their attention, as it can save everyone a lot time and agony.
Find the option that's right for you
Are you a car audio enthusiast who has a full aftermarket stereo system? Or are you a business man who needs a tablet in your dash to get work done?
Not every iPad install is the same. More questions to consider are…
Do you need bluetooth for phone calls? Do you need your iPad to charge while it's in the dash? Or would you rather have a wireless setup that can stream audio through your car's speakers while a passenger has the iPad detached from the dash? Does your car have steering wheel controls for your stereo?
The answers to these questions will determine which parts you will need to hook the iPad up to your car. Lets start by looking at the different mounting options available.
The first and most popular mount is called a Side Slider™. This option allows you to slide the iPad into your dash and dock into a connector.
Pros: the iPad charges, the wired output sounds the best
Cons: you can't play audio through the car's system while the iPad is out of the dash, the dash will be larger in size to accommodate the iPad slot.
The second option is called a Float Mount™. This option features a quick release magnetic mount. You can simply set your iPad into the dash and it clicks into place.
Pros: flat flush dash panel, you're able to stream audio while the iPad is detached from the dash, huge cool factor, more convenient for daily use
Cons: does not charge the iPad while in the dash
Now you can decide which option is best for you.
If you need your iPad to always charge when its in the dash you need a Side Slider. Now for the wiring options for the Side Slider. The three options below are design to work in conjunction with our Side Slider kit and the lightning 90 adaptor sold on our website.
Option 1: the Digital Kit
We've found this kit to be very reliable and in-expensive. This kit includes an iStreamer which powers the iPad while extracting digital audio from it. An Audio Control pre-amp that gives you six channels of adjustable output. Perfect for the guy who has a full aftermarket sound system in his car. The external volume knob can be mounted on your vehicle's dash board. Please note that this option requires an amplifier to power your car's speakers. This kit does not have the ability to integrate with factory features such as steering wheel controls, or bluetooth for phone calls. If your car has steering wheel controls or you have to have bluetooth for your phone, you may want to consider "The Sony Combo". Our digital kits can be purchased here.
Option 2: the Sony Combo
This is by far the most in-expensive and feature packed option. Sony offers a line of car stereos with a feature called "App Remote". This feature allows you to control your Sony car stereo with an App installed on your tablet. Most sony radios also feature bluetooth for your phone. The App Remote feature is especially cool because you can install the sony unit somewhere hidden, which is very important because the amount of space on your dash is limited. Sony MEX-GS600BT
Option 3: the Optical SQ Combo
This option is for the guy who want the highest sound quality possible. This option is typically accompanied with a very high end sound system. there is a cool little part called the Pure i20. This device extracts the digital audio from the iPad similarly to the iStreamer. However, the Pure i20 gives us an optical output which we can connect to an audio processor. The Audison Bit Ten D audio processor has the exact optical input that we need. This audio processor also features a very versatile equalizer, time delay, crossovers and all kind of other fancy things to adjust. The Bit Ten D also comes with a very cool looking dash mount control. Like Option 1, this system also does not integrate into your vehicles steering wheel controls or bluetooth. This setup requires a unique set of skills. If you want to go this route we suggest finding your nearest Audison™ dealer.
The Float mount is a magnetic mount with a patent pending quick release design. This option is by far the coolest most convenient to use setup on the market. The Float-Mount™ kit can be used with one of our wireless kits. Or with any stereo system that features bluetooth audio streaming. If your car already has bluetooth audio streaming and steering wheel controls, this option can be a quick, easy and super sleek setup.
Keep in mind - When utilizing your factory head unit it is most common to hide your head unit and install the iPad in it's place. Most newer cars have a secondary display up higher on the dash (which is ideal). The functionality of the stereo unit will be limited based on what you can control with the steering wheel controls, or by voice in some cases.
Option 1: Wireless Bluetooth Kit
These kits are reliable and super simple to install. The kit featured a bluetooth muddle which will automatically pair to your iPad when your key is turned on. The audio from the bluetooth adaptor then goes to a line driver. You have your choice of a two channel model or a six channel model. This option requires aftermarket amplifiers to power your speakers. The two channel kit will give your two RCA outputs to hook up to a two channel amplifier. This kit can also be used if your amp has an input selector switch (picture). The six channel kit has 6 RCA outputs for your traditional Front/Rear/Sub amplifier setup (most common). Our kits also include a volume knob that you can mount to your dash.
Option 2: Aftermarket Bluetooth stereo
This option should be considered if you're car does not support bluetooth and you don't want to add an amplifier to power your speakers. This is also a good option if you want bluetooth for your phone You'll need an aftermarket head unit that can handle two bluetooth devices (one for streaming audio from the iPad, and one being your phone for phone calls).
So now that you know way too much about the ins and outs, you should have a good idea of the features you might be sacrificing when installing an iPad in your dash. In most cases you will be sacrificing one or two features, but gaining all the features the iPad can offer.
Can i hook my back-up camera to my iPad screen? ;)
The iPad does not support a wired video input. IP/wifi camera's require a router and have an unacceptable lag for use in a car. We suggest a rear view mirror replacement. I like the Rydeen™ mirrors because of their OEM appearance.
That pretty much exhausts all of the best working options out there. Now for the fun Part! The fabrication end of this job can seem off putting and scary. It's not for the faint of heart, you will be cutting and fiberglassing to your cars dash board. The KEY to tackling this job is preparation. We've done a good portion of the work for you. Below is an example of our fabrication kits. We make kits for the Side Slider™ and Float Mount™. We can also do this for you. If you wish to have us fit a kit to your dash click here for instructions on how you can ship us your dash panel. You may also want to check car audio shops in your area.
Installation will require the following materials and tools. (amazon links below)
- Air Grinder
- Air saw
- Sandpaper (60grit, 220grit, 600grit, 1000grit)
- Body filler spreading tool
- CA glue and accelerator
- Masking tape
Here's a quick step by step of how to install the Side Slider™ kit. Click the images for a description of each step.