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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I picked up a Carlink AI box: Amazon.com

I have it connected via USB into the socket under the center console arm rest of my '17 GTS (with PCM4, iirc).

Essentially, it's a small Android unit that fakes the PCM into thinking it has a wired Carplay connection. PCM touchscreen, speakers, mic... all seem to pass through to it.

It also has the ability to act as a bluetooth "go between" to allow wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. I don't use any Apple junk so I can't testify to that. But since this is, basically, a full Android device it kind of doesn't need to have your phone connected to it at all. Because all your regular PCM pairing for the phone still works (phone calls, etc). You can put a SIM directly into the Carlink box, or you can have it join an existing wifi network. I have a SIM in my PCM that hosts a hotspot, so I just joined this box to that WiFi network. The SIM size in the PCM is larger than the AI box uses, otherwise I'd have tried it that way.

Initial testing was impressive. I logged into my Google account on it and loaded up several Android apps. Waze, Pandora, etc. All loaded and appear to work just fine. I used Waze for directions, with a Pandora stream playing and it handled switching the audio between music and directions without a hitch. Note, this was using the apps ON THIS DEVICE. Not through my regular phone. It'll do that too, but I didn't test it as this is a pretty good use of the PCM's touchscreen. I also tried having Waze doing directions while listening to SiriusXM on the PCM itself (not streamed). Again, it handled switching between the PCM music and the Waze directions pretty well. Though I do feel like the audio from the Carlink box could have been a little louder, but I haven't dug into the settings to see how much I can change.

I'll report more as I get a chance to put it through its paces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Wow, great find. What year is your car?
It's a '17 Cayenne GTS, with what I think is considered the PCM4 radio (the kind with no bezel around the screen).
Mobile phone Telephone Telephony Mobile device Portable communications device


I'm assuming this would only work if your PCM was set up to handle a wired USB connection from a Car Play device. I don't think it would automagically enable Car Play unless the PCM was already able to do it.

There are several clever things about this. It will let you:
  1. use an iPhone wirelessly for Car Play.
  2. use an Android phone wirelessly (acts as a go-between, emulating Car Play into the PCM)
  3. use independently as an Android Auto device, with a full range of google apps and account sync'ing.
    1. if you put a SIM into this directly it'll act as a phone all on it's own
    2. if it has a SIM it can then also act as a wifi hotspot
Right now I've used it as #3, but without a SIM in it. I'm using the SIM in the PCM itself, and have this joined to the PCM's WiFi hotspot. I don't get phone functionality with it this way, but my regular Bluetooth paired phone still works just fine for calling.

If I used a SIM in this unit it'd have it's own phone number, unless it was a SIM from a provider that allows number sharing. I think AT&T allows that, but I don't think it's a Verizon option. So I'd be inclined to keep using my regular phone via Bluetooth and only use cell data via the SIM. That still gets me SMS text messages and google account sync'ing.
 

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I wonder if this would work for previous generations without CarPlay as well. I know you mentioned the possibility that it would not, however this would be a fantastic solution if it did. Currently we have to crack open the unit and add another board. I’ll have to look into further. Thanks for sharing!

And big as day in the description, only for cars with existing CarPlay lol. Such is life lol.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is an external box, that plugs in via USB. It depends on the head unit (the PCM) having the ability to recognize that a CarPlay capable device has been connected. It wouldn't do anything to a head unit that didn't already have this ability.

As to whether older PCM can be 'upgraded', that I don't know. That's a whole other set of issues to tackle, and not directly relevant to this particular unit. I seem to recall there were some rennlist threads on doing an Android retrofit of the whole PCM. I've no idea how well those work. Might want to scour those threads to find out more.
 
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