I love my car. I love Apple's CarPlay. But they do not love each other. What's a technologist to do?
My beloved 2004 Acura TL is awesome. Its got 270 horses under the hood, a cockpit that perfectly fits my 6'4" frame, and it's filled with state of the art technology like HD Audio and a beautiful touch screen display. Its got Bluetooth that could connect my old Motorola RAZR, a fantastic iPod mount, and cassette to a adapter for music. Yep. State of the art. For 2004. Sigh.
I won't be replacing my car any time soon, but I wish I could get access to all the new cool stuff. I could use an Android phone where Google delivers Android Auto to their phones. It works really well. But I'm an iPhone user and, sadly, there's no CarPlay in this car. Not even a third-party head unit that's compatible with my beloved car.
But there is Navdy.
HUD is out
Navdy started life a Kickstarter project and it's now shipping for all. In short, it gives almost any car, going as far back as 1996, a modern heads up display — HUD. It delivers accurate mapping, controls for telephony, and messaging as well as audio controls. And it's wicked cool.
I've been using Navdy for the last week or so. It consists of a small, transparent screen that attaches to your dashboard and is powered by the ODB port in your car (almost all cars from 1996 have one). Setting it up took me about an hour. 15 minutes for installation, 45 minutes to tweak the display.
What you get for that small investment of time and money is a heads up display along the lines of what you might see for fighter pilot in a movie. Or for, you know, Tony Stark in the Iron Man armor.
Once Navdy kicks in, Information floats above the hood of your car. Maps, directions, messages, and audio are all there. It's controlled by a small dial that connects to your steering wheel — or by gestures. I found the steering will dial best for use, but gestures are pretty cool.
Navdy is awesome, but there are some downsides. First, it's not cheap. Second, if it's not calibrated correctly, the display can be a distraction. It's not any more distracting than a phone interface or an integrated car display, but those can be pretty distracting.
Still, it's the best way I've found so far to bring my vintage car the latest in automotive technology. The company is smart and responsive when it comes to support, and the iOS (and Android) app is well designed.
In short, this is an awesome way for cars that can't use CarPlay to take advantage of their iPhones and make their dumb cars a lot smarter.