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Apple and Google’s car strategy revolves around CarPlay and Android Auto. Is there room for another entrant? Spotify thinks so, and it’s released its Car Thing (yes, that’s the actual name) that can be added onto any car that supports Bluetooth or AUX inputs. I’ve been spending more time using Spotify lately, so I purchased it to compare it to CarPlay. Keep reading to learn more about it.

Installation process

The actual hardware is much smaller than I expected, but that’s not a negative. It reminds me of the external XM Radio unit I had in the early 2000s. It can be mounted in multiple ways, but I found the easiest to the CD tray adaptor. I still remember when having a CD player in a car was something you had to pay extra to have, and we’ve come full circle where it’s just a way to mount newer technology in your vehicle. The other included options are the air vent mount and dash mount.

Once it’s mounted in your car, you’ll need to plug the car adaptor into your car DC plug. Included in the box is a USB C to USB-A braided cord that plugs into the included DC plug. My car has a built-in USB-A plug, but Car Things refused to operate when plugged into it. Instead, it displayed a message about using the included DC plug.

Car Thing setup Using Car Thing

As a CarPlay user, I wasn’t sure what to expect when using Car Thing, but I went into it expecting it to be the best way to use Spotify in the car.

It includes four buttons on top of the hardware that act as presets to your favorite podcast, albums, playlists, radio stations, etc. Setting them is no different than how you’d put your favorite radio station in your built-in car radio. So, for example, if you want your Discover Weekly mix as preset 1, start playing the playlist, and press & hold button 1 until it sets. I find this aspect of Car Thing to be the best way to use it.

The best way to use the product is the preset buttons on the top, though. Find your favorite playlists and add them to the presets and let that be the way you change tracks directly from Car Thing. Otherwise, it’s easier to find that specific album or podcast from the iPhone app before you start driving.

Even if you don’t use Car Thing to change the content that’s playing, the screen is still a great way to see what’s playing while you’re driving.

Car Thing vs. CarPlay

If you have CarPlay built into your car, the Spotify CarPlay app is a much better experience. If you don’t have CarPlay, I recommend the Intellidash Pro over Spotify’s option. It’s more expensive, but it’s an overall better experience.

So who’s the product ideal for? It’s ideal for someone who wants to spend less than $100 for a customized Spotify experience in a car. Is it better than CarPlay? I don’t think so, but it’s solid hardware for only $79.99. It’s easy to install and a nice add-on for a Spotify-only experience in the car.

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Why The Death Of Ces Isn’T Really A Bad Thing

Why the Death of CES Isn’t Really A Bad Thing

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is right around the corner, which means all of us in the technology world are gearing up to see all kinds of new devices. From televisions to smartphones to Ultrabooks, just about any major product category (and some that have yet to be revealed) will be making a showing at CES.

But in recent weeks, it’s becoming clear that the industry’s most important event might not be so important any longer. Just this week, Verizon said that its CEO Lowell McAdam won’t be making an appearance at a keynote he was expected to attend.

That news follows Microsoft admission that this year’s CES will be its last. Meanwhile, Apple has once again balked at showing up at CES, leaving some of the most prominent companies in the business turning their backs on the show.

Those troubles have prompted some to speculate on the future of CES. Will it survive? Is the business model of allowing any and all consumer electronics companies to attend, as well as well over 100,000 people really the best move? Can CES attract other large companies to make up for those that have left, or are at least considering leaving?

I have a better question: who really cares?

Look, I’m as guilty as anyone else for loving all the excitement surrounding CES. We get our first looks at some of the latest and greatest ideas tech companies have to offer, and along the way, we can decide if any of those products are something we’re going to buy.

[aquote]CES has become bloated[/aquote]

But in recent years, CES has become bloated. Too many companies attend the event, and in far too many cases, what they show off isn’t all that impressive. What’s worse, they’re all vying for limited attention, and more often than not, they get lost in the shuffle. For most companies, the upside of going to CES is not all that great.

The show’s Microsoft loss is huge. Microsoft was a staunch supporter of the event for years, and now that it’s leaving, what other big company can really lead the charge to help it attract attention?

Apple certainly won’t line up for that duty and considering Google seems so against being viewed as a hardware maker, it’s unlikely the search giant will carry the banner either. And as much as I’ve tried, I can’t think of another top newsmaker that would hold a keynote address that the vast majority of consumers would care about.

CES is in trouble. And although I believe it’ll hold on for at least the next few years, unless some drastic changes are made, I’m not sure it can survive beyond that.

But then again, who cares? The show is fun, but if we lose it and the countless other shows the industry has succeed because of it, will we really be missing out? I don’t think so.

Dude, Where’s My Amphibious Car?

There’s a hard-scrabble serenity to Texas Hill Country. The rustling of live oak trees and the meandering clip-clop of furry Herefordshire cattle crossing the road all that break the windy silence. But that wasn’t always true. When Stonewall, Texas native Lyndon Baines Johnson was still alive, the former president was always ready to disrupt the peace, especially when behind the wheel of his lagoon blue convertible.

High-tailing around his property in the German-made contraption, Johnson would reportedly point the car downhill toward the Pedernales River, yelling to passengers that the brakes had gone—the car couldn’t stop. It was only when they hit the water, hearts in their mouths, that his guests learned the truth: Johnson’s little craft was built for rubble and waves.

Between 1961 and 1968, Berlin mechanics built 3,878 Amphicars, which were gobbled up by aquaphilic Americans including LBJ. Though the run was limited—Ford averages 2,472 pickups sales every day—it remains the largest production of amphibious cars to date. Since its post-war peak, the fantasy of floating cars in every dock and driveway has faded, diminished by engineering issues and other impracticalities. But experts say this truly all-terrain vehicle could soon see better days.

LBJ at the wheel of his Amphicar in 1965. Wikipedia

The first amphibious cars were built by the Nazis. Volkswagen produced 14,265 Schwimmwagens (translation: swimming wagons!) between 1942 and 1944. They never saw much action, but their mere existence was enough to inspire hybridization campaigns in other nations. The United States, for example, began production on the six-wheeled DUKW. These hulking machines, referred to as “the ducks,” later made their way to military surplus sales. Some were purchased by Mel Flath of Wisconsin, who filled them with tourists, and later took his “duck tour” company nationwide.

In the 1960s, the first amphibious car for civilians rolled off the lot. The Amphicar, with a capital A, was a sleek and effective vehicle, according to Scott Brunner, president of Gordon Imports, a major Amphicar parts supplier. “There’s a lever on the floor for the propeller drive, so you just shift it into forward, let up on the clutch, and there you go,” he says. As long as he pulled the bilge plug in the bottom of the hull closed, and tightened the extra latch in each door, Johnson could pull off his little prank and remain waterproof. “When you’re going to come back out, you can re-engage the four-speed lever into first, and let the propeller go,” Brunner adds. “When the wheels hit the ground, you just drive out.”

There was just one hitch: The half-boats were built, insensibly, from steel, which rusts with extended exposure to water. By the 1970s and 80s, many Amphicars had fallen into disrepair. “Of the less than 4,000 that were manufactured, probably half of those are still around, in all conditions,” Brunner says. “As far as usable ones, it’s got to be less than 1,000.”

Though it’s counterintuitive, the number of usable Amphicars actually increases every year. “For a long time, the cars weren’t worth that much. But nowadays, the value’s gone up,” Brunner says. “People are always finding them in a barn or a back field… and now they’re being restored and brought back into usability.” Replacing parts with more modern materials, along with regular paint jobs and oil, can stave off rust. But some have given up on steel, and turned to modern amphibious cars for their boundary-breaking needs.

But boundary breaking has a price. In the United States, these dual-purpose jalopies seem to evade regulatory agencies on land and water. Since 1999, 41 people have died in duck boat incidents in the United States and Canada. This has been attributed to a lack of oversight, and some peculiarities of their design. Seat belts, for example, save hundreds of landlubbers each year, but restraints can be deadly in a boat, preventing passengers from escaping a capsized craft. Similarly, many duck boats have a canopy cover to shield tourists from the sun. The only problem is, the soft roof can act like a net when overturned in water, trapping customers even when they’re wearing life vests.

A duck boat for touring the land and waterways of Missouri. Wikimedia

Tim Dutton is a U.K.-based manufacturer who’s been bringing his own amphibious designs to the street since 1989. When I asked why we weren’t all driving boat-cars around, he says it had nothing to do with technology. “We’ve pretty well sorted it out,” he told me. Unlike their mid-century predecessors, Dutton’s vehicles are made from lightweight but durable fiberglass, a mainstay of contemporary boat-building. Modern rubbers and quality plastics fill in the gaps. And the 8-inch propeller is enclosed like the fan in a jet ski.

One thing that hasn’t changed from President Johnson’s time to ours is speed. On land, the Amphicar went 70 miles an hour, but in water, it maxed out around 6 miles an hour, or 5 knots. “The speed now is absolutely identical,” Dutton says of his crafts. That has to do with the body of the boat. Planing hulls are the fastest crafts, allowing captains to cruise across the surface of the water. Semi-displacement hulls sit in the middle. And displacement hulls, common to barges and amphibious cars, sit low in the water—sturdy but comparatively slow. “No matter how big an engine you put in a displacement hull, it’ll only go 6 miles per hour,” Dutton says.

Competitors in the amphicar space have their own tactics, with mixed results. Mike Ryan of SeaRoader has turned existing car bodies, from trucks to Lamborghinis, into water-worthy vehicles—and viral eBay sensations. From 2002 to 2003, a New Zealand-based company produced the Gibbs Aquada to great acclaim. With submerged speeds of 31 miles per hour, it enabled eccentric British billionaire Richard Branson to set a new record for crossing the English Channel. (He went from coast to coast in 1 hour 40 minutes and 6 seconds.) But, like the 2004 Swiss-made Rinspeed Splash, the Aquada was a limited concept car, and never made it to mass-production.

Trade-offs aside, Dutton and Brunner believe amphibious cars are a feat of engineering—and totally ready to ferry. (Dutton bets his life on it; the inventor can’t swim, but trusts his life to these waterproof rides all the time.) So that leaves just one explanation for the aquatic car’s failure to dominate: few people actually need a two-in-one machine.

Each year, Dutton’s company sells about 10 submersible vehicles. About half are purchased for industry uses—scientists might use them for watershed research, for example—and the other half are for pure fun. Tallied up with restored Amphicars and hobby projects, the total number of usable waterproof rods indicates just a few hundred people feel the urge to (safely) drive their car into a river at any given moment.

As for the rest of us, we’re managing to make do with separate cars and boat—at least for now. “We’ll all have them, with climate change,” Dutton predicts. “When everywhere has three feet of sea level rise, they’ll make a lot of sense.”

What To Do If You Are Involved In A Car Accident

It can be easy to fall into a false sense of security when it comes to car accidents; many consider themselves to be more-than-competent at driving, and many have never seen an accident, let alone come close to one. But car accidents can occur for all manner of reasons and are more common than might initially seem. In the UK, around 60 serious injuries are suffered as a result of a car accident each day on average.

Knowing what to do in the event of an accident is of crucial importance, whether to take command of a potentially distressing scene or simply to stay on the right side of the law. Here are some of the things you should do to make the aftermath easier.

Immediately After an Accident

Your first priority in the event of being involved in an accident is to confirm the safety of yourself and your passengers. Stop your car quickly and safely if possible, and check yourself for injuries. If you have passengers, ensure they are also in a stable condition, before exiting the vehicle and checking on any others who may have been involved – whether pedestrians, cyclists, or people in another vehicle. If anyone seems to have been injured somewhat seriously, do not move them; neck and back injuries can be significantly worsened by attempting to move someone. Instead, call for an ambulance.

If any wreckage is blocking the road – or if you believe a criminal offence was committed such as impaired driving or a hit-and-run – also call for police presence. Police can manage traffic, and also adjudicate the scene by speaking to the parties involved.

Also read:

How to Calculate Your Body Temperature with an iPhone Using Smart Thermometer

Exchange Information

If another vehicle was involved in the accident, and both you and the driver of that vehicle do not require medical intervention, your next step should be to exchange information. This information includes insurance details and your name and address in the event that anyone was injured in the accident. Swapping details is crucial to the smooth handling of insurance claims.

Contact Your Insurance

Compensation

If you suffered a personal injury as a result of the incident, and the incident was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation via a civil claim. Making a no win no fee claim can help navigate the legal process ahead of court, and also protect you against solicitor fees in the event that a court case does not rule in your favour. Mercifully, a considerable majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court.

In Defense Of Homework: Is There Such A Thing As Too Much?

As a middle school and high school teacher, I assigned a lot of homework to my students. And though writers such as Alfie Kohn , author of The Homework Myth, make sound arguments against it — particularly the drill-and-kill variety — I stand behind the homework I gave. Why? In the twelve years I taught in low-income urban and rural schools, I saw my students extend their skills, their understanding of their communities, and their sense of themselves when given well-crafted take-home assignments.

My long-term goals for my students, and the skills I thought they’d need to reach those goals, drove what homework I assigned. I wanted all my students to have the opportunity to attend college, to carry a lust for learning into adulthood, to have engaging employment, and to build meaningful relationships. To do so, they needed to adopt some learning behaviors — to engage intellectually outside of class, access resources, read independently, write and revise, and work with others.

Ideally, students have meaningful after-school internships where they would apply classroom learning, build independence, and foster relationships with peers and adults. Because we’re not living that ideal, I believe the right homework can help.

My students didn’t have instant access to an academic network, so often I required them to identify and use community resources: They got library cards. They identified tutoring centers. They frequently found appropriate adults and peers to engage and edit their writing. These assignments helped combat their teacher fatigue and required that they stretch beyond their comfort zones to ask bosses, older cousins, or former teachers for academic help. To be honest, some of these assignments mattered to me but were hardly the standards-based activities my administrators looked for during class hours; homework sometimes allowed me to address my standards, not just California’s.

Metacognitive assignments also proved particularly effective. Students completed logs describing their thought processes during independent reading. Or, building on reading strategies I’d teach in class, they’d revisit chunks of text at home, recording their questions, connections, and predictions. Later sharing these responses with their peers, students made meaning of text together (often while I took roll!) and I quickly assessed what needed reteaching.

The more metacognitive strategies I taught, the more freedom students had with homework; by year’s end students picked strategies from a huge “toolbox” to help them grapple with that night’s text. Students overwhelmingly reported that metacognition, much of which has to be done independently, built their reading confidence and skills.

Perhaps the most motivating and challenging homework? Oral history projects. Students interviewed family members about immigration and migration, transcribed tape, created and revised narratives, and published their work. In the process, they didn’t just address hard-to-cover standards, participate in organic grammar exercises, and handle equipment; more importantly, they connected with adults in their lives, learned about history (their own, each others’, and California’s), and started to see themselves as the community’s storytellers. All these results came from the interviews, which took place in kitchens and family rooms across San Francisco.

These assignments worked for my students, and necessarily took place outside of school. Even simple journal responses to literature, letters to me, or bringing in found poetry gave students a chance at personal expression otherwise impossible in large classes. And when the assignment was right, students were active rather than passive, making connections between one day of class and the next, not waiting for their teacher to provide the next “show.”

As with most conversations about education, we can’t separate the question of homework from questions of equity. I’m not arguing that thoughtfully created homework levels the playing field — affluent families surely assist and prod more than struggling ones. But I worry about the outcome if every U.S. school were to embrace Kohn’s radical query: What if we just didn’t assign homework at all? While middle- and upper-class families still took vacations, paid for tutoring, and enrolled kids in music classes and language schools, would children from families with less social capital have even fewer learning opportunities to help them in school?

Even if we wanted to, in the end, most teachers won’t experiment with Kohn’s imaginings and ban all homework. In our No Child Left Behind era of scripted curricula and diminished teacher creativity, few instructors have the autonomy to make such decisions on their own.

What the anti-homework camp does, though, is remind us that there are different types of homework and that those differences are significant. Teachers who read Kohn’s argument against homework probably will, as I have, revisit what homework they assign and why. Kohn does for teachers what good homework should do for kids — he gets us reflecting on experiences, thinking about practice, and talking to each other about the meaning of our work.

Lisa Morehouse taught secondary English for twelve years in San Francisco and rural Georgia. She is now a public-radio journalist and an education consultant.

Apple Carplay Not Working? How To Fix It

Apple CarPlay offers a safe and seamless way to access iOS apps on your car’s infotainment. With Siri onboard, you can make calls, send texts, and use maps handsfree. However, sometimes CarPlay simply stops working. It could be due to connectivity issues, wrong setup, or other reasons.

Besides, many users are reportedly facing this issue after updating to iOS 16.4.1. Let us take a look at how to fix common Apple CarPlay issues.

Precursory checks

Ensure both your car and iPhone supports CarPlay.

If your vehicle doesn’t support CarPlay, consider upgrading to a third-party ICE (In-Car Entertainment).

Download and install the latest iOS update.

Check if your car’s infotainment is updated to the latest firmware; for help, visit the manufacturer’s website.

Check for conflicting devices. Disconnect other wireless devices on your iPhone. See if CarPlay works now.

Ensure adequate power supply to the car’s infotainment.

Restart iPhone and see if it makes any difference.

If your CarPlay is still not working, read on. I have listed the most common CarPlay issues alongside tried and tested fixes.

The right way to set up Apple CarPlay

CarPlay tends to throw errors if not set up properly. Meanwhile, incomplete settings could also lead to dicey connections. To avoid CarPlay problems, you can follow the steps below.

1. Enable CarPlay

It is not enough for your iPhone to support CarPlay. You must enable the feature. Sometimes Screen Time setting tends to interfere with CarPlay. Therefore, after enabling CarPlay, you also need to tweak certain Screen Time settings.

Head over to iPhone Settings.

Tap General → CarPlay.

2. Change Screen Time Setting

Go to Settings.

Open Screen Time.

Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.

Tap Allowed Apps.

3. Disable USB Restricted Mode

The USB Restricted Mode is designed to ward off hacking attempts in iOS. The feature blocks hackers from breaking into iPhones using tools like Pegasus. However, the restricted USB mode also blocks CarPlay. Follow the steps below to disable it.

Open Settings.

Tap Face ID & Passcode.

Enter your passcode.

Note: The step is valid only if you use the wired version of Apple CarPlay. Consider turning on USB restriction after using CarPlay. Else your iPhone will be vulnerable to threats.

How to fix Apple CarPlay Connectivity issues

Apple CarPlay is more than just a screen mirroring tool for your car. Every CarPlay app is tweaked for the best hands-free experience. CarPlay works by syncing iPhone data in real-time. Connectivity issues are very common with CarPlay. Below are some of the common CarPlay connectivity issues and their fixes.

1. Check connections

Make sure the lightning cable is connected properly to CarPlay. For wireless variants, ensure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are switched on. Restart the car and establish a new CarPlay session.

2. Change USB cable if needed

Lightning connectors are notorious for breaking and giving up easily. Check if the cable needs replacing. Sometimes lint and other debris get deposited in lightning port. Flush it out with a small brush or simply blow some air. Try to get hold of a new lightning cable and check if CarPlay connects.

3. Forget and re-connect CarPlay

You have already established that the lightning cable is working properly. Now let us unpair the car and re-connect CarPlay. Here’s how you can forget and re-connect CarPlay.

Open Settings → General.

Tap CarPlay.

Select your vehicle’s make and model.

Restart your vehicle and re-connect CarPlay.

If the problem persists, move on to the next step.

How to fix the Apple CarPlay Siri issue

In my opinion, Siri is one of the most useful CarPlay features. It makes using CarPlay and getting things done effortlessly. Before doing all of that, you need to enable Siri with CarPlay. Follow the steps below to do so:

Go to Settings → Siri & Search.

Enable all the following options.

Listen for Hey Siri.

Press Side Button for Siri.

If nothing works, reset iPhone settings

As a last resort, reset your iPhone settings. Ideally, the reset should resolve conflicts between apps and even connectivity issues. Restore your iPhone to factory settings and set up a new CarPlay connection.

Head over to Settings → General → Transfer or Reset iPhone.

Tap Reset.

Tap Reset All Settings.

Enter iPhone passcode when prompted.

That’s how you can fix the Apple CarPlay issue. We hope your Apple CarPlay is up and running. Some car models, like the 2023 Toyota Camry, Camry HV, Corolla hatchback, and Avalon HV, seem to have multiple CarPlay issues.

If you own affected car models, approach the manufacturer and ask for a firmware update. Lastly, always keep your eyes on the road and use Siri to control CarPlay.

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Author Profile

Mahit

Mahit is an engineer by Education with a corporate stint to his name. He ditched the corporate boardroom wars in favor of the technology battleground. For the better part of a decade, he has worked for popular publishing outlets, including Dennis Publishing, BGR India, AppStorm, MakeUseOf, and iPhonehacks.

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