Mobile Technology

Pioneer AppRadio brings (some) iOS apps to the car dashboard

Pioneer AppRadio brings (some)...
Pioneer's AppRadio features a 6.1-inch touchscreen display
Pioneer's AppRadio features a 6.1-inch touchscreen display
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The AppRadio interface
The AppRadio interface
Pioneer's AppRadio features a 6.1-inch touchscreen display
Pioneer's AppRadio features a 6.1-inch touchscreen display

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.

The AppRadio interface
The AppRadio interface

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.

Alright! Angry Birds and road rage at the same time!!!
Pioneer has a long reputation of hyping their products, advertising features that aren\'t really there and taking the attitude of \"we\'ve got your money, don\'t bother us\" when customers ask for help. I\'ve owned three of their AVIC series radio/nav systems, and kicked myself each time I bought one. Never again.
I totally agree with Luddite above. I \"temporarily\" own a $1200 Pioneer Avic 920 and I was lucky enough to be able to force the dealer to agree to let me return it. I hate the POS. None of the iPhone apps they hype to sell the device work worth a damn. The Pandora app would be good except that it doesn\'t multiple-task so any time the iPhone does another activity (call, text, alert, etc) you have to fumble around with the phone and relaunch it. A driving hazard for sure. The biggest letdown was the \"AVIC Feed\"s app. It simply crashes every time even after several version update attempts. Read the AVIC Feeds app review in ITunes to get a feel for what a joke it is. There isn\'t one nice thing I can say about that Pioneer unit. Their support is PATHETIC. Don\'t pay for anything from them upfront. I like the Appradio concept but fear another total letdown from Pioneer.