It's about time some fruit emerged from the Car Connectivity Consortium, and Nokia is here to show other manufacturers how it's done -- and perhaps more importantly, why it's significant. The company has introduced Car Mode for Symbian Belle and N9 smartphones, which is an application that interfaces with MirrorLink (previously known as Terminal Mode), to provide a seamless and attractive connection between your smartphone and stereo head unit. Like we've previously seen, the system essentially works by mirroring your phone's display onto the vehicle's in-dash touchscreen. From there, you're given full access to navigation, music, contacts and videos without the need to fumble with your handset. Coinciding with this announcement, Alpine has introduced an aftermarket head unit known as the ICS-X8 that supports MirrorLink, which is expected to go on sale in November. We're loving the functionality here, but are still wondering when Android, Windows Phone and iOS will get their share of due diligence. Follow the break for video demos from Nokia and Alpine, along with the full PR.




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Alpine Electronics launches ICS-X8 supporting MirrorLink standard on Nokia smartphones

MirrorLink, an industry wide standard introduced by Car Connectivity Consortium, provides seamless connection and control of Nokia smartphones and applications on the Alpine ICS-X8. Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA), Frankfurt Germany, September 10, 2011 - Alpine Electronics, a leading automotive systems and audio specialist, and Nokia, a leading provider of mobile communication devices, introduced today the world's first in-car infotainment solution based on MirrorLink. The new Alpine ICS-X8 App Link Station and Nokia smartphones, both equipped with the first commercial implementation based on the MirrorLink standard, allow users to navigate, listen to music and place calls from the car's dashboard. Controls, display and audio integration offer a more convenient, pleasant and optimised way of using a Nokia smartphone and its applications in the car. The solution also provides standard hands-free operation of a mobile phone via Bluetooth connection. The ICS-X8 has been developed under a strategic partnership between Alpine and Nokia as announced in March 2010 and is the first aftermarket solution announced based on MirrorLink.

MirrorLink, formerly known as Terminal Mode, is a recently introduced standard for connecting smartphone devices to vehicle-based infotainment systems. It is a cross-industry solution supported by leading automotive manufacturers, system suppliers, consumer electronics manufacturers and handset manufacturers as part of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC).MirrorLink offers seamless and convenient use of smartphone-based applications. For example, the touch-screen display of the infotainment system and the car audio system offer an optimal driving and travel experience. MirrorLink based Nokia smartphones can now be connected with the Alpine ICS-X8 in-car system. Once connected, consumers are able to intuitively and safely use smartphone applications from its 7-inch high-resolution display.

Nokia Car Mode

Nokia Car Mode is an optimized UI (User Interface) for in-car usage. It provides direct access to key applications such as Nokia Drive (Navigation) and music player. Music and voice guided turnby-turn navigation are actively managed and sent to the car infotainment system to ensure smooth audio transitions across different applications. For example, the music player mutes when voice guided navigation is required. Via the ICS-X8's high-resolution touch-screen display, drivers can enjoy a highly intuitive navigation experience. Controlling navigation and music player become even easier and more comfortable on the head unit's display. Different kinds of information can also be displayed simultaneously. Nokia Drive will also connect to the car's GPS receiver, allowing even more accurate navigation in areas of weaker signal strength.

Bluetooth Wireless Technology

Hands-free calling is available from the ICS-X8's built-in Bluetooth module. Features such as echo cancellation and microphone gain adjustment provide the ability to fine-tune the Bluetooth sound quality to match virtually any vehicle interior. Contacts in users' phonebooks can be rapidly scrolled through or searched by name. It also remembers the last call volume, supports call waiting, and can be configured to announce navigation guidance during a phone call. Users can keep navigation map on-screen and make a call at the same time.

Sound Quality Features

The ICS-X8 continues Alpine's legacy of high sound quality, featuring a 50W x 4 amplifier, three high voltage pre-amp outputs, 9-band Parametric EQ, digital time correction, and digital crossover. To tackle the lossy nature of compressed digital music, Alpine's exclusive MediaXpander™ technology ensures richer music playback more true to the original recording.These sound quality features are available as well for Nokia Music playback.

Nokia Phone Compatibility

Connection between the ICS-X8 and a Nokia smartphone is achieved through the ICS-X8 supplied USB cable, which also will charge the smartphone battery while driving. MirrorLink connection will be available for compatible Nokia smartphones with Symbian Belle, such as Nokia 701, Nokia 700, Nokia 600 and it will also become available for Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C7, Nokia X7 and Nokia C6-01 models at a later date. Support for the Nokia N9 is also planned.

Future-Proof Design

The Alpine ICS-X8's operating software can be updated via USB connection to ensure compatibility with future smartphones and other new smartphone based applications designed for use in car.

Availability

The ICS-X8 will be available in November at Alpine authorized dealers. Please visit www.alpineeurope.com to locate a retailer. The MirrorLink app for Nokia smartphones will be available for download soon from store.ovi.com.

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Nokia announces Car Mode with MirrorLink support for Symbian Belle and N9 smartphones (video)