Update: 2017 GMC & Chevy vehicles have HDMI ports now. Click here to learn how to watch video in 2017 vehicle using your iPhone & iPad
GMC & Chevy vehicles are awesome family vehicles… except when you want to play movies on the entertainment system using an iPad/iPod/iPhone. Why? What went wrong?
Well, when the iPhone 5 was released in 2012, Apple introduced a new “Lightning” connector instead of the old 30-pin connector (see photos below). Both the 30-pin connector and the Lightning connector support video output — but the output is different. The newer “lightning” output is digital and the old “30-pin” output is analog. This matters because the “technology” in the 2015 & 2016 GMC/Chevy entertainment system only includes USB and Composite Connections which only play analog input. Composite connections are the yellow, white, and red pins that plug into corresponding colored jacks to get video and audio from one device to another. You’ve probably seen them on an old TV or VCR, right? Right. In order to play digital movies GMC/Chevrolet should have included an HDMI port in the vehicle.
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The good news is there are some options. I explored this in detail and spent way too much time figuring this all out so I had to share what I’ve learned and hope that I can save you time and sanity! Let’s get those kids watching movies again and stop the backseat fights! Below are the options I’ve found:
Option 1: **UPDATE 8-5-2016***
I found a new HDMI to Composite Converter and it works!!! I’m posting this on top of the other options because this has been the best solution I’ve found and it works great! I can use my iPhone 6s & iPads to watch movies via Netflix, Amazon, Apple store, etc. This options mirrors your phone so movies are controlled directly from the iPhone/iPad so we don’t have to fool around with the entertainment system remote to make it work. I even plug in my phone and let the kids take turns playing Pokemon go while the other kids watch the action unfold on the screen! The cable is not bulky or cumbersome. I tuck it into the little nook that is below the composite connection for storage. This is an option that will work with current iPhones which have a Lightning connection. First, get an Apple lightning to HDMI Adapter ($43), an HDMI to HDMI Cable ($7), and an HDMI to Composite Converter ($34) The composite Converter doesn’t need to be plugged into any power source. Plug the Lightning to HDMI Adapter into your phone, attach the HDMI to HDMI Cable, then attach the HDMI to Composite Converter. Plug the Converter into the composite (red, white, yellow) connection on your vehicle. This route will cost you around $85 but it works great with current iPads and iPhones that have the lighning connection vs the old 30-pin connection.
This is the first thing I tried. It works but not great. If you happen to have an old iPhone or iPod collecting dust this is a workable and cheap solution for $8. The old iPhone is outdated and it’s tricky to get it updated and download movies (mine didn’t have much memory). You can purchase an old 30-pin iPod or iPhone (iPhone 4 or earlier) cheaply on e-bay/craigslist/Amazon ($100 -$150) and get a 30-pin composite adaptor ($4-$8). If using and iPhone it may be necessary take the old iPhone to the Apple store or a phone carrier store where they can put in a SIM card and reset it so it can be used like an iPod. Then connect to iTunes, perform updates, download movies & music, set up adapter in vehicle and viola you are in business for $100 – $150.
This is an option that will work with iPhones that have a Lightning connection. Get an Apple HDMI Adapter ($40), HDMI to HDMI cable ($7), HDMI to Composite converter ($19) The Composite converter comes with a USB cable that has to be plugged in for power, Composite to Composite cable ($5). This route will cost you about $75 and will use a lot more wires but it works with Lightning connections. This route will cost you about the same as the recently added “option 1” and option 1 is better, in my opinion.
There is a small company in Katy, TX that sells a VGA to Composite Adaptor. I haven’t tried this option so I don’t know how it works. The cost is $99 and it includes the converter and all the cables. I’m skeptical that this will work in the vehicle because this device is supposed to mirror what you see on the iPod/iPhone on the TV but I don’t think the GMC system will allow that. If you try it and it works let me know! Here is their website: http://www.svideo.com/li.html.
There are other quirky problems with the entertainment system but I’ll have to explain that in another post. For now I hope this helps!