It is about to get easier to access podcasts on iHeartRadio while behind the wheel. With the connected car offering myriad new ways to enrich the audio experience for drivers and passengers alike, iHeartMedia used the massive CES Show to unfurl a slew of new and updated automotive integrations with tier one companies including General Motors, Android Automotive, SoundHound, Panasonic and others. The common theme: making it easier and more engaging to access audio content from iHeartRadio’s expansive menu of podcasts, live radio, artist-seeded stations, and playlists.
The biggest news for podcasters is iHeartRadio’s new integration into the General Motors dashboard will allow users to access podcasts and playlists for the first time. The GM menu already includes live radio and custom artist radio. The update will be available across vehicles already on the road as well as in future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles with eligible infotainment systems. Those include 2017 model year and newer GM vehicles with compatible hardware, an active GM OnStar service plan and paid AT&T vehicle data plan.
General Motors isn’t the only automaker getting an iHeart refresh. The same is coming to BMWs, and it’s one that will make podcasts and other content available to all drivers—not just those holding an iPhone. BMW first integrated iHeartRadio into its ConnectedDrive dashboard entertainment system in 2015 with an iOS app. Now iHeart is releasing a refreshed app that brings Android users to the party and updates the iOS version. The update offers an enhanced audio experience for both BMW and MINI drivers and allows iHeartRadio listeners to safely and easily listen to podcasts as well as live radio, artist radio and playlists while on the road.
Speaking of Android, iHeart has also unveiled a new, standalone version of the iHeartRadio app for vehicles powered by Android that includes the Google Play Store built-in. First announced at a Google developer’s conference last May, the app will be distributed via the Google Play Store and available first in Volvo’s Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge vehicle launches this year. Using the Android-powered vehicle app, iHeartRadio listeners can access podcasts, live radio, artist radio and playlists while cruising around.
Another new integration is with Harman as iHeartRadio will be an early ecosystem partner for the new Harman Ignite Marketplace. It’s supported through a partner ecosystem of in-vehicle apps and services — from navigation and messaging to productivity and media — and will allow consumers to personalize and control their connected driving experience and ensure time in the car is time well spent.
Michele Laven, President of the Strategic Partnerships Group for iHeartMedia, said 2019 was a “momentous year” for the company and says in 2020 they’ll continue to expand their audio offerings and connect with more of the biggest players in tech. “Broadcast radio dominates in-vehicle listening and iHeartRadio continues to be at the forefront when it comes to new digital interfaces and experiences,” Laven said in a statement. “We’re excited to be at CES unveiling our new integrations and concepts with the world’s leading auto innovators as we continue to steward audio innovation in the car.”
iHeartMedia also announced LG’s webOS Auto platform will integrate iHeartRadio. Originally designed for the smart TV, LG’s webOS Auto platform will be available on video screens for rear seat use.
There are also new iHeartRadio updates for Panasonic Automotive and SoundHound’s Houndify voice AI platform. It will make iHeartRadio available to developers and partners to integrate the streaming service, allowing users to access podcasts, which will be available globally, except in the United Kingdom, as well as live and artist radio stations.