If you're the obsessive type (and really, who isn't these days?), your feverish brain may well have fixated on a quick little infonugget that popped out during Steve Jobs's appearance at the D: All Things Digital conference last week-- namely, that Apple is working on some sort of iPod-to-car interface. And just in case you figured that someone had merely heard him wrong, Steve mentioned the device again during the London Music Event yesterday, saying that it should be coming along later this year. But what manner of device might it be? That's what ought to poke through your grey matter and rattle around a bit.
Really, as far as obsessions go, it's not a bad topic to chew up your excess brain cycles, because so far most of the existing methods of listening to an iPod in the car leave something to be desired. If you have a cassette player in your car stereo, there's always the trusty ol' cassette adapter, but they can produce an annoying background whirring noise to accompany your music, and some people insist that the sound reproduction isn't the greatest, either. If you've got an FM radio, you can get one of those tuner thingies like the iTrip, but if you live in an urban area you might have a tough time finding a frequency empty enough for decent sound. (We had really bad luck in both Boston and Chicago.) Even if you're lucky enough to have an 1/8" line-in jack in your dashboard, you still need to select and control your music on the iPod itself-- which can be cumbersome, especially when your car might have a CD player that's wired into a nice big color LCD in the dash and nifty control buttons right in the steering wheel. Clearly the automotive iPod experience has room for improvement.
Well, the good news is that if you had any doubt left, you can now rest assured that Apple is, indeed, working on it-- for some of us, anyway. Faithful viewer Andrew Galbraith tipped us off to a MacMinute "exclusive" describing an upcoming "two-page joint advertisement from Apple and BMW for a new iPod car adapter"; it says "Control freaks, rejoice" and touts "the first seamless integration of iPod and automobile." Reportedly the system-- whatever it is-- will be available first for the BMW 3 Series, X3, and Z4, and when it's installed, it'll allow control of the iPod "through the existing audio system and multi-function steering wheel." And there's a URL in the ad: iPodYourBMW.com, which currently just points to a generic "Coming Soon!" page.
Now, while it's true that many of these details were available at AppleInsider a day earlier, MacMinute went so far as to pony up some scans; pity they don't show the device itself, or what sort of interface you get through the BMW's audio system. And it's also a bit of a bummer that, at least so far, you'll need at least a $28,000 car for this level of iPod integration. But it's a start, and while details are scarce, it sounds like it's at least marginally better than our own iPod-in-the-car solution, which consists of a pair of Cambridge Soundworks Newton T300 Tower Speakers, a Marantz PM-7000 Integrated Amplifier, four stout bungee cords, and a Really Long Extension Cord. (Patent pending, of course.)