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Next GATE Accessory for Your iPhone
There are many companies (both mobile manufactures and automakers) looking for ways to integrate cell phone functionality with driving a personal vehicle in a way that is safe. This has been spurred not only by the number of automobile accidents associated with cell-phone usage, but also by the many states lining up to enact hands-free laws. So far, Apple has come up with one of the best solutions to this problem with their Siri software, a program that allows users to make calls, send text messages, check and update social networking accounts (like Facebook and Twitter), get directions, order tickets, make reservations, and more without having to touch the screen. And now it seems that Clarion Corporation of America will take iPhone integration to the next level. Clarion, probably best known for their in-car entertainment options, has created Next GATE, a smartphone controller with a 7-inch touchscreen that mounts to the windshield of your car and allows you to jack your iPhone 4 or 4S in for optimal voice control. It also has Bluetooth capabilities, so you may not even have to physically connect your phone to use the system. Although the device isn't technically integrated into your car, it does offer a hands-free option with myriad possibilities for usage, and there are more to come thanks to Clarion's upcoming release of the Smart Access Cloud Telematics Service (namely for download and storage of compatible apps). But for now, here are a few of the benefits you can get from this handy smartphone controller. For starters, the system comes with voice recognition software that will allow for hands-free calling and texting as well as the ability to activate iPhone-specific features. This is good news for Siri users, who should now be able to activate the software by voice, and not having to tap the screen to get Siri up and running. And for those that have the iPhone 4 (sans Siri) the benefits are clear. But even beyond the hands-free capabilities, Next GATE has a lot to offer. For starters, it provides a couple of options for music selection, including TuneIn, an app that connects you to literally thousands of radio stations across the globe (bringing you music, news, sports, weather, and traffic updates), and Pandora. If you haven't yet discovered this music service online, you'll be pleased to know that it lets you create personalized stations based on bands, genres, or even songs that you like, tailoring stations with input on your likes and dislikes. You'll also have access it INRIX Traffic, an app that helps you plan routes via real-time traffic updates, as well as InfoGation, a navigational application. But perhaps the best news for drivers in states with hands-free laws is the inclusion of Vlingo. This talk-to-text, voice recognition software lets users connect to text-messaging functionality, along with email and social media sites (including Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, and so on). This incredible supplementary tool for your iPhone may not help to cut your car insurance (although in a way it might if it keeps you from having additional accidents due to cell phone usage in the car). But it will certainly make accessing your phone's functionality easier every time you get behind the wheel, which is something that most modern drivers have waited for. Next GATE on sale at Amazon and other retailers at a suggested retail price of $269.99.