These days, iPod connectivity has practically become a standard feature on new cars but Pioneer's AppRadio aims to do a lot more than simply play tunes stored on an iDevice. The system consists of a head unit featuring a 6.1-inch capacitive touchscreen that, when connected via the 30-pin connector to an iPhone or 4th gen iPod touch running the AppRadio app. can display and control not only your iPod music, but also compatible apps.

Pioneer describes AppRadio as the first in-vehicle product designed to utilize the processing power, storage capacity, network connectivity and apps of an iPhone or iPod touch as the primary source for its information and entertainment capabilities. Farming such things out to an iDevice has presumably allowed Pioneer to keep the cost of the unit down, but also makes it pretty reliant on support from third party developers to tailor apps for compatibility with the AppRadio.

Currently the only compatible apps available are MotionX-GPS Drive, Inrix, Rdio and Pandora, plus the iPhone's Google Maps and iPod music library. But Pioneer expects the list of AppRadio compatible apps to grow. When new apps become available from third-party developers, the AppRadio app on the iDevice will automatically notify users and provide a link to the app on the iTunes Store. Pioneer says it also plans to upgrade AppRadio to support future iOS device software and hardware updates.

With safety in mind, AppRadio compatible apps provide users with a simplified interface tailored for in-vehicle use. Although the apps are run on the iDevice, Pioneer says AppRadio will block certain functions deemed unsafe for use while driving. Along with the already mentioned navigation and music streaming apps, AppRadio also includes access to an iPhone's Contacts, Calendar and Photos apps, with access to the Calendar and Photo apps restricted to when the parking brake is fully engaged. The device also includes an AM/FM radio and supports hands-free calling via Bluetooth.

The only physical controls on the AppRadio are a volume rocker and a home button located underneath the 800 x 480 (WVGA) touchscreen display. The unit also includes an external GPS antenna and an external microphone for hands-free phone calls. There are also input/output connections for hooking up a rear view camera, wired remote steering wheel control adapter and an external amp via one set of preamp outputs.

While AppRadio is currently only available for iPhone and iPod touch (4th gen), Pioneer says an Android version is in the works.

The Pioneer AppRadio is available now for US$399 and the AppRadio app is available as a free download from the iTunes Store.

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