More on integrating an Apple iPhone 3G with Audi’s telephony and audio systems

A few days ago, it was my birthday. Whilst 37 is not a particularly significant age to celebrate (I prefer to think of it as the 16th anniversary of my 21st birthday), I did get a little present at the start of the month (hopefully it wasn’t an April fool’s joke) when my new company car was delivered. Bye bye Saab (I liked you at first but you soon showed yourself to be a Vauxhall Vectra in disguise… with aftersales service to match…) – this time I’ve gone down the German route and plumped for an Audi A4 Avant S-Line. I have to say that, even though it’s still early days, this could shape up to be one of the best cars I’ve ever driven (especially with the extra toys I’ve added to the spec) – mind you, I’ve always liked German cars and have bought a few Volkswagens over the years.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to start writing car reviews – but I did write something a few months ago about integrating an Apple iPhone 3G with Audi’s telephony and audio systems and I wanted to write a follow-up, now that I’ve had some opportunity to spend a bit more time with a suitably equipped car.

First up, telephony integration. This is simple, as long as the car has the Mobile Telephone Preparation Low option. No cradle is required as the mobile phone preparation provides Bluetooth connectivity. As I wrote in my earlier post, just pair the iPhone with the car using the code 1234 within 30 seconds of opening the car and inserting the key (i.e. activating the car’s systems). The handsfree device will be something like Audi UHV 0000, although the number will vary and, once paired, calls will ring the iPhone and the car simultaneously. The Bluetooth logo and signal strength are displayed on the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) display:

Audi telephone connection (MMI)Audi telephone connection (Driver Display)

My iPhone 3G is running software version 2.2.1 and I seem to have no difficulties accessing the phone’s number lists and directory (although voice activation/control is not availablethe phonebook that this refers to is the voice tag system, not the directory accessed on the phone over Bluetooth):

Audi accessing iPhone phonebook (Driver Display)

One thing to note – the car can only act as a handsfree for one phone at a time (although it can pair with up to 4 devices). When I’m “on the clock”, I turn off the Bluetooth on my iPhone so that the Nokia 6021 I use for work can access the car systems.

If you’re still having trouble, Audi provides a Bluetooth FAQ as well as a PDF with details of supported handsets (which is now over a year old and so does not include the iPhone 3G, although it appears to work).

Because Apple has not provided Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) functionality on the current iPhone 3G or the first-generation iPhone, to integrate my iPhone with the music system so that I can access the phone’s playlists, etc., I needed to specify the Audi Music Interface option and buy an AMI iPod cable for £29. I think there is a minimum requirement on the sound system for this too (mine is the Audi Concert system).

The AMI is in the glovebox (close enough for a Bluetooth signal for the phone to carry on working) and the cable will charge my phone at the same time. The only problem is that the iPhone complains that the AMI is not a supported accessory and wants to go into airplane mode. If I tell it not to, the AMI will usually find the iPhone and let me navigate the playlists, etc. but I have found it seems to work better if I put start the iPod application on the iPhone before connecting:

This accessory is not made to work with iPhoneAccessory connected
Audi AMI access to iPhone playlists (MMI)Audi AMI access to iPhone playlists (Driver Display)

The good news is that the forthcoming iPhone 3.0 software is expected to include A2DP (and it should work with the iPhone 3G – but not the original iPhone), after which I should be able to stop using the cable (although I may just leave an old iPod semi-permanently connected to the car at that point).

[Update 12 December 2011: Even though iOS is now at v5.0.1, I’ve been unable to use A2DP. This worked in another Audi I drove recently so I assume the car needs a software update too.  This information from an AudiForums thread might be useful too:

“First, the difference between AMI and MMI, which threw me off, so hopefully someone else will find this helpful. This is for my 2011 A4… I don’t know what other years/models it may apply to.

  • MMI (Multi-Media Interface) is just the screen/knob system that controls the radio/sat/cd/settings/etc.
  • AMI (Audi Music Interface) is the link between the MMI system and your iPod or other MP3 device. It is a port in the glove box that you can attach different cables to for different music devices.”]

11 thoughts on “More on integrating an Apple iPhone 3G with Audi’s telephony and audio systems


  1. I had no idea cars were so complicated. Whatever happened to just driving them?

    Though come to think of it, driving them is all done via electronics too.

    I had a go in a top-end Audi TT on a racetrack a year or two ago; it felt like playing a computer game: there was no sensation whatever of being in contact with the road, or the wheels, or anything.

    Probably because I wasn’t, in fact, in touch with any of those, but was merely providing generalised high-level intentions to whatever was actually doing the driving.

    I preferred my old Alfasud – and it made a much better noise, too!


  2. It was probably easier to fix when it broke down too! (I say when… it being an Alfa and all that ;-) )

    I remember learning basic car maintenance on my Mum’s Ford Fiesta when I was about 14… wouldn’t stand a chance with a modern car!


  3. Dear all,

    I’am trying to sync the Iphone with a 2007 Audi A6. The Iphone contains like 2100 contacts, however a lot of them I see on the carkit but the problem is… when I receive an incoming call – it doesn’t identify the caller whilst it is in the addressbook. Do you have any ideas…?? I tried everything… The contacts are being synchronized with Outlook, is it possible something is wrongly added in Outlook or is it really the carkit?

    Or maybe is it possible that there are some contacts on the sim as well as on the internal memory of the Iphone, that the carkit does not know which memory to pick for an incoming call?

    Otherwise we would have to import the contacts into the carkit itself. But with 2100 contacts, someone outside that list is going to make a call someday and I would like to identify that one as well.

    I would just want the Audi Carkit to see all my contacts the same way as my Iphone does. Plus, that it can recognize an incoming call.

    I hope you guys know how to help me!!!


  4. Hi Mark,

    Nice article there. I have a similar setup to yours (2010 Audi A4 AllRoad + iPhone 3GS connected through cable)

    Since the iPhone 3GS now works like a charm with A2DP devices, do you have any idea if there is a way today to have A2DP support in the Audi through the MMI interface ?

    Thanks

    Pierre


  5. Hi,

    Thanks for the post. This is the setup that I am after. I’ve just got an Audi A4 SE Executive with phone prep low. Their is an auxilary cable in the middle armrest however no phone, or cradle for my Iphone 3G. Bluetooth calls work fine. What do I need to be able to access my songs on the iphone through the dashboard controls?

    Is it a cradle for the armrest?
    or
    Is it an iphone cable that audi installs in the glovebox?

    Thanks


  6. @Jonny – Bluetooth and phone prep low will get you by for the calls, but for integration between the stereo and the iPod/iPhone you’ll need the Audi Music Interface (AMI) and a 30-quid cable that provides a dock connector in the glovebox. Once that’s alive, the dashboard will (usually) find your iPod/iPhone playlists. I’ve had a few issues when it doesn’t recognise the iPhone, but think that’s more to do with the phone than the car. A reboot (of the phone) usually fixes things.


  7. Hi, I have a big problem accessing to my iPhone 3GS phone’s number lists. One month ago it was working perfectly. Then, after the upgrade of the iPhone OS, it doesn’t work anymore. I can still use as handsfree device, but there is no more connection with the phone’s number list!
    I run OS 4.1. I tried with a my friend’s iPhone 4, and everything is perfect.
    So I’m desperate: I cannot roll back to a previous OS of my 3GS, and I’d be disappointed if I must buy a new iPhone 4 only to access the contact list, considering that with the older OS it was working perfectly! (and changing car is not an option… )
    Can anyone help me?
    Thanx a lot!!


  8. @Pierre – sorry, only just saw your comment. I’ve not been able to get the A2DP support working with AMI on my car (although I had an A7 recently for a few days and it worked a charm on that car) – I’m wondering if maybe the AMI in my A4 needs a software update too…

    @Ugo – hopefully you got your problem sorted? I have an iPhone 3GS (on the latest iOS release – v5.0.1 at the time of writing) and my phone lists seem to be working. Might be worth a reset of the iPhone?


  9. @Mark – I already tried to reset the iPhone, but nothing happened! I too, now, have the IOS v5.0.1, but still doesn’t work. Could be a problem of the MMI interface of my Audi model? Maybe it needs some update?


  10. Mark – I have a 2007 Audi and iPhone 3G. the interface works great, but the speaker volume for incoming calls is too low if the car is moving. I use the volume control on the steering wheel to max it out, but all the talking is too soft to hear.
    Any ideas?

    Thanks

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