If you are tired of fumbling around the car for your lost iPhone, look no further than the Next GATE by Clarion. Released earlier this month, the on-dashboard Smartphone Controller is a way to ‘revolutionize the way people communicate and access information in their vehicle,’ all while maintaining driver focus. It provides hands-free control of assorted apps in a simple user interface and optimizes the iPhone’s functionality…
With a large, seven-inch 800×400 TFT display, the Next GATE offers a lot of visual real-estate. Mounting to a dashboard or windshield, it looks like a stand alone navigational unit but is much more versatile than a GPS. Drawing its brainpower from your iPhone, Next GATE connects via Bluetooth, rendering a physical hardware install for your vehicle unnecessary; consequently, the unit is compatible with all makes/models and standard radios.
Next GATE draws power from the vehicle’s cigarette outlets and even comes with a 5 foot dock connector for the iPhone 4/4S (iOS 4.3+). For modern cars, a 3.5mm AUX-out provides a hardwire audio connection, but the unit uses a small speaker if necessary.
At its core, the device provides hands-free calling and texting. Additional applications include music, navigation, news, weather, and communication control, even allowing speech to text functionality for Twitter timelines and ESPN news feeds. To download applications to the iPhone, use the Next GATE Smart Access (free in the App Store) companion app as a portal to the Clarion “info-structure,” which has been designed specifically to work between the two devices.
Some Next GATE apps easily control current iPhone apps, such as the option to manipulate the iPod Music Player app, TuneIn, or Pandora. Other more complex apps must be specifically purchased to operate with the unit. It appears to me some apps will run on the iPhone but are controlled by the Next GATE and, conversely, some apps operate on the Next GATE, but gather information through the iPhone’s data network. Either way, you will want to watch your data plan if you utilize this device on-the-regular.
For a full explanation of functions and features, Clarion outlines the possibilities on their product page.
While we did not have the opportunity to go hands-on with the Clarion Next GATE ($249.00 at Crutchfield), it certainly seems like an excellently connected addition to any stock vehicle. The biggest benefit is the ability to use the product without modifying the existing radio or audio deck. More over, the Next GATE does not require its own subscription services to operate; although a data cell phone plan and additional apps for specific functions are required.
Can you see using an aftermarket connected device for your car? Or is your GPS good enough for now?