Steve's Ramblings


Apple and Chevrolet need to go out to lunch

Filed under: Apple, Chevy Volt — sriggins @ 7:37 pm

Apple iPhone engineers and Chevrolet Volt engineers need to go out to lunch.  The Chevy engineers will pick the Apple engineers up at Infinite Loop.  They’ll drive to San Francisco for this lunch.  I’ll pay.

I’ll pay, as long as the engineers try to accomplish the following:

  • Pair the iPhone to the Volt via Bluetooth
  • Try to use Siri from the home button on the phone to play a song that is in iTunes Match
  • Use the iPhone for directions and try to hear those directions while listening to AM radio

Seems simple enough, but the iPhone and Volt work so poorly together that only the pairing works.  Nothing else works without either endangering my drive or just flat out not working.  Here is what I have experienced:

  • Press Siri button, Volt switches to bluetooth, but all I hear is the Siri tone for “You didn’t say anything” as Siri disconnects
  • Press Siri button again, sometimes it works, sometimes it kills Siri until I:
    • Go into and out of Airplane mode
    • Turn off and on the Volt radio
    • I’m not even joking
  • When I do get Siri listening, tell it to play a song:
    • Siri starts playing, but no audio on the Volt
    • Switch to Bluetooth source using the terrible Volt controls on the Steering wheel that go to Bluetooth, but Phone interface, not Music.
      • Have to now touch the touchscreen on the center console
    • Still no audio
      • Pull over and stop/start music on the iPod app.  Sometimes this makes audio play, sometimes not
        • Curse at Apple and Chevy
    • Give up.  My iPhone is useless for listening to audio over Bluetooth in the Volt
  • When Siri does not work, try it manually
    • Same experience when I do get Siri to play the song

Do not even get me started with using the controls on the Volt console to try and control an iPhone that is set up for iTunes Match over Bluetooth.  It is flat out terrible.

What about Navigation?

  • Start Navigation via Siri or Manual
  • No audio via Volt speakers, because I am listening to AM sports radio
  • Pull over to side of road
    • Unlock iPhone
    • Tap Navigation app
    • Tap “bluetooth” icon
    • Switch to “iPhone” audio (not “Chevy Volt”
  • Continue drive
  • Notice one minute later that iPhone has switched back to Bluetooth audio, so no more directions are heard

I love Apple.  I love my iPhone.  I love my Volt.  I loathe how they work together.  It is embarrassingly bad.  Terrible.   Unusable.

Get together folks.  Have lunch.  Make life on the road safer and possible to use your products together.



  1. So weird, because we’ve used an iPhone with two rentals via Bluetooth with no problems: a Ford Fusion a few years ago (with that terrible Microsoft Sync software with a 2-line LCD display, not even a screen) and last year with a Hyundai Sonata. We used iTunes, phone, and Navigon. Once we got the pairing to work (no manuals, so had to just figure it out), it worked like a charm.

    Comment by negrino — 2013-03-04 @ 11:34 pm

    • I would love that. Whomever developed the stack for the Volt did a terrible job.

      Comment by steveriggins — 2013-03-04 @ 11:35 pm

  2. I had an issue with my iphone not working properly over the bluetooth system, when on the phone it was terrible static. There is an update that can be done at the dealership to fix the issue. You may want to try it. It can’t hurt!

    Comment by Krystal — 2013-04-25 @ 10:40 am

  3. I know this sounds terrible, but just get an iPhone USB cable and plug it in to the volt. Most of the issues you’re describing went away for me in this configuration (iPhone 5 & 2013 Volt). I don’t listen to AM radio, so I’m not sure on that. Bluetooth does leave a lot to be desired in this car for sure.

    Comment by Marcus — 2013-05-30 @ 7:01 pm

    • Marcus,

      I tried USB once but the car could not see any of my music due to iTunes Match. I’ll try again and just see if I can play/control the phone via Siri while plugged in.

      Comment by steveriggins — 2013-06-01 @ 7:23 pm

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