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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So I Mounted An iPad Mini In My Car...

I have a Pioneer AppRadio 3 (SPH-DA210) in my car and it's great! I like it a lot. My phone stays in my pocket when I turn on my car and music automatically starts playing in a few moments. And with Siri, I can shuffle songs, find specific playlists or artists etc. without having to ever touch my phone while driving.

It's good when driving around town to familiar locations. When I have to go to a place I need directions to, there is a problem. See, I like using Apple's built-in Maps application for navigation. Unfortunately, the app isn't fully AppRadio compatible. You can have it displayed on the AppRadio but without any touch controls.

That's where my dilemma lies. I have a Garmin GPS lying around somewhere which I haven't used in ages. There's no doubt that dedicated GPS devices are the best for navigation. Cell phones are a relatively newer technology for navigation and lose out when you reach a place where there is no cell phone signal (Yes there are places like that even here in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area).

Apple launched the iPad Mini sometime late last year. The device has an appealing 7.9-inch screen size making it more portable than it's larger-screened sibling, the iPad. Since its release people have been installing the device in their cars. Be it either on the headrests for back seat passengers or in the car's dashboards, the iPad Mini is the right size for a vehicular install.

The larger screen compared to the iPhone makes the iPad Mini easy to read while driving. The main reason why I've always wanted to have one in my car is for navigation only. The AppRadio does media quite well and using navigation with music playing at the same time isn't the most streamlined experience. Having the iPad Mini do the navigating is really a pleasure. The big screen (bigger than the AppRadio 3 too) is definitely a welcome sight!

I tried to make a modification to my dashboard to house the iPad Mini more permanently but it turned out to be, as expected, quite a tedious process. Getting it done professionally wasn't the cheapest option either with some auto shops wanting to charge upwards of $1000 for custom-made iPad Mini kit. So I decided to go old-school with a suction mount for the dashboard.

After ordering a decent mount from Amazon, I finally received it in the mail a few days ago. I gave it a shot on the dashboard and this is what it looks like.

My car isn't the biggest so there isn't much real estate to work with on the dash. The best place to mount the iPad Mini was just above the AppRadio 3.

Now, granted, the vents are partially blocked by the mount but it still is the only place I can install it without obstructing my view of the road while driving. I like where it sits but there is one other minor issue. My iPad Mini is a wi-fi only model which means each time I want to use it I have to tether it to my iPhone. I can live with that though.

Having tethering turned on doesn't interfere with my iPhone being connected to the AppRadio 3. This setup works well for me at the moment. I don't plan on having the iPad Mini mounted at all times in my car but only when I need to use navigation. The good thing about a suction mount is that you can remove it when it's not in use.

Had I installed a custom-made housing for the iPad Mini, I would have to deal with finding a way to cover it when I leave my car locked. Leaving an iPad Mini in plain sight isn't the safest thing to do.

I have a short road trip planned later this month. The iPad Mini will serve my navigation needs during that time. I will gladly report back as to how it served the purpose.

Here's a similar mount to the one I use. This one is from Amazon. Click image for details.

Title image source: Apple


  1. Certainly is convenient for navigating places when traveling. I like the way it was positioned in the car because it will be totally easy to control and access.

  2. It would of been nice if you put a link to the mount you bought from Amazon, also how do you deal with the light that comes through your windshield in my car its almost impossible lo see the Ipad screen during day time even with the brightness all the way up. Also i tried to use my ipad mini for navigation before and since it doesn't have a built in GPS it didn't really work that well, with the built in map application are you getting turn by turn navigation on it?

  3. Great. I'm loving how we're bringing technology closer to the driver. I've been working on an app that fits inside the iPad for the car. It uses things like EyesFree gestures in the music player for safety and tons of other features all grouped into one system. Check out Dashbox App:


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