iPhone Fail With iOS4 "Upgrade" - 2010 GMC Terrain Long-Term Road Test

2010 GMC Terrain Long-Term Road Test

2010 GMC Terrain: iPhone Fail With iOS4 "Upgrade"

August 19, 2010


I upgraded the operating system software in my iPhone 3GS a few weeks ago. Today, the fully integrated iPod connection in our 2010 GMC Terrain doesn't recognize the iPod music player half of this device at all.

It all seemed so wonderful. Apple introduced the iPhone 4, but they also threw a bone to those of us with the lowly 3GS model: they gave us the iOS4 operating system for free. No one could resist. Cool features and multitasking ensued.

Soon after I started noticing odd Bluetooth pairing and phonebook synching glitches on a variety of cars. iPod menus didn't always work right. In a 2011 Kia Sorento, I couldn't access any phone numbers through hands-free means. Then, yesterday, our 2010 GMC Terrain gave me the silent treatment. It toally refusd to recognize the iPod half of the device it had worked so well with weeks earlier, when my device ran on iOS3. I had to resort to the standard Aux jack and cable and use the iPhone's own interface to play podcasts and music.

Dear Apple: I suppose you guys drive cars. You can't all be riding fixies, right? So why does you new iOS4 totally Bogart the in-car iPod interfaces that carmakers have been designing for the last several months and years? Did you have to go and re-program all of the pin-outs to screw things up this badly? How about settling on one standard "iPod" interface and stick with it? You know damn well that cars are designed on a 5-year cycle. Besides, haven't you heard about the hands-free movement? If you're not careful, hands-free incompatibility with cars might actually put your customers in a legal quandry. The legislative tide is rising. Worse yet, insurance companies may weigh in. None of us wants that.

Dear Carmakers (except for Ford): Look, new phones are coming out all the time. Weekly, I'd guess. And they're not just Apple devices. Consumer electronics nerds are all about the latest and greatest, and the development cycles of the newest must-have gadgets are tens times shorter than the glacial pace of new car development. And within this hardware framework, new firmware and software for existing products is released quite often, in a form consumers can access and upload into their devices by themselves, for free. You guys have to get you act together and get compatible with this reality.

Dear Ford: Sync isn't perfect, but it's pretty damn good and it's easily the best automobile interface out there for such user devices. Best of all is the ability to upgrade the software to recognize new phones with a user's own computer and USB stick, for free, without a dealer visit. I did it a few months back so our 2009 Ford Flex could recognize a 3Gs iPhone. Worked like a charm. You get it. Thanks.

What? Wait a minute. My iTunes just alearted me to a new update for iOS4. iOS4.0.2 is ready for download into my iPhone...


This is exactly what I was talking about. New software is freely available and can be downloaded in seconds. Let's hope iOS4.0.2 has the fix everyone is hoping for.


Dear Apple: If you're not going to take this seriously, can I have the downgrade-upgrade back to iOS3? I don't seem to be able to do that, but I need to. This and many other cars in the fleet can't be upgraded any way that I know of--there's no built-in provision for doing that. In this relationship, you're the only one that can change. What do you think this is, Ford Sync?

Dear Carmakers (except for Ford): What are folks with this and other as-yet unreleased new phones supposed to do if they won't work? What is your plan to keep up with the constant forward push of cell-phone and media player technology?

Dear Ford: I'll be taking a USB stick down to the Flex to install the latest upgrade that will support an iPhone 3GS upgraded to iOS4. I trust you've cracked that code or will soon.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 12,000-odd miles

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