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Using Apple AirPlay Audio In My Car

AirPlay is a great way to wirelessly send music and streamed audio from your iPhone (or other iDevice) to external speakers. The quality is great and you don’t have the issue of your device not working well with multiple Bluetooth devices at once etc.

It sounds like the perfect solution for in-car audio. However, as it is relatively new you don’t find it in many cars yet. For those of us who don’t have an in-car wireless alternative and who don’t want to simply plug our iPhones in using a cable then there are options out there to get AirPlay working. Here is a solution that worked for me when trying to get Apple AirPlay working in my car.

There are, as the proverb states, many ways to skin a cat. This is how I solved my problem to my satisfaction. Others should be careful when trying to copy this approach and should remember that different phone models, different cars and different stereos etc may wildly change whether this will work for them.

 

The Problem

My BMW E90 (2005) has a great in-car Bluetooth telephone system. However, it doesn’t have the facility built-in to send music or streamed audio over Bluetooth from my iPhone to my in-car stereo. My in-car system also doesn’t have a USB input to the stereo. It simply has a cigarette-lighter power socket and a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input in the armrest that have turned out to be perfect for my needs here.

 

What I wanted to achieve

– I wanted the Bluetooth phone system to continue to allow me to make and take calls without the need to wire my iPhone in.
– I wanted to wirelessly play audio output from my iPhone, whether it be locally stored content or Internet-streamed, to my car stereo using the auxiliary input.

 

Parts Used

– a cigarette-lighter USB plug.
– a Neet WiFi Wireless Music Receiver (comes with a micro USB power cable and 3.5mm audio cable).

Neet - WiFi Wireless Music Receiver

The Neet WiFi Wireless Music Receiver

This is perfect for my needs. It either allows you to join it to an existing wifi network or will create its own that you can connect to.

By default you turn on the Neet and it will create a wifi network that you can see and connect to from your iPhone. When connected you will be able to see the AirStream AirPlay device to output to.

This mode works great in the car and you can even change the settings to put a password on the wifi network it creates (which is prudent).

The cigarette-lighter power socket in the armrest of my car only comes on when the ignition is on, making it perfect to power something that I only want to use when I am actually in the car. I have read of other people’s woes of a live feed to the battery or having to wire a power lead to the ignition themselves when trying to solve similar issues.

 

My Setup

I used a cigarette-lighter to USB adapter to give me my power supply and used the USB to micro-USB lead to put power into the Neet.

I then plugged the 3.5mm cable from the Neet into the 3.5mm auxiliary input in the armrest.

This means that when I turned on the ignition the Neet came live and created a wireless network in my car that I could connect my iPhone to. It took about 15 seconds to appear and for me to connect to.

I was then able to select the AirStream AirPlay option for audio output from my iPhone.

This was nearly exactly what I wanted. It allowed me to wirelessly play my iPhone music to my car stereo. Great progress.

However, I want then faced with the challenge of fulfilling the other requirement. I wanted to still be able to access the Internet on my iPhone (to steam Internet audio / receive iMessages etc) whilst in the car.

As the iPhone was on the AirStream wireless network it was trying to access the Internet via that, which will never work.

I therefore had to make a manual change to the wifi on my iPhone to get this to work as I wanted.

 

Here is what I had learned

When connected to a wifi network the iPhone will always try to use the default gateway provided. If the IP details for a network do not include a default gateway then it will fallback to using the cellular connection. Eureka!!!

Therefore, I looked at the IP details issued to my iPhone via DHCP and decided to manually set my own, omitting the default gateway part

The Neet’s IP was 192.168.77.254. My iPhone’s IP details, issued by the Neet, were:
IP: 192.168.77.200
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: 192.168.77.254

Therefore, I switched from DHCP to Manual on my iPhone and setup the IP details on my iPhone as:
IP: 192.168.77.1
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway:

Note the blank default gateway. This then allowed the iPhone to connect to the Neet’s wifi network, see the Neet (AirStream) AirPlay device for output but also access the Internet over wifi.

This worked out great for me and I hope that it can help others who have similar issues or challenges.

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