Posts Tagged ‘AppRadio’
If you drive, and if you read Engadget (which…you do), there’s a good chance you’ve spent some time using an iOS device in the car. You’ve probably also spent some of that time wishing there were a better way to integrate your phone or pod with the car itself. There have been devices to help you bring Pod and vehicle together in an unholy union of distraction since that first physical scroll wheel hit the scene, from maddening tape adapters and FM tuners to more integral solutions like Ford’s Sync system. The whole time, we were kind of just wishing they’d figure out a way to let us mount the thing directly in the dash, and have our way with it as we do in all other situations. Pioneer’s AppRadio approaches that — it looks unapologetically like a bigger iPod in landscape mode, complete with minimalistic physical controls and a laid-back, no-nonsense look about it. Does it, in fact, make the iPhone more useful while you’re in the car? Turns out, it’s a yes and no kind of thing.
Gallery: Pioneer AppRadio
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A month after its official unveiling, Pioneer finally found it fit to release a pair of official demo videos of the AppRadio. However, both are clearly meant for marketing purposes rather than actually showing what it does. Check out the second after the jump.
The radio is also now available for purchase $ 399 at the usual suspects of Amazon, Best Buy, and Crutchfield. Pioneer previously stated that it would retail for less than $ 500 so they clearly made good on their promise.
Also, why is that labeled on as an exclusive when it’s on Pioneer’s official YouTube channel?
Here it is, ladies and nerds: the Pioneer AppRadio. As the name implies it’s centered around applications in a smartphone-ish sort of way. All the big boys are here: RDIO, Pandora, and Google Maps along with the driver-centric apps of INRIX and MotionX-GPS Drive. This is possible through the Pioneer AppRadio iOS app that serves up data and app access to the head-unit from a connected iPhone or iPod touch. It lacks the native iOS support we had incorrectly heard it has, but features enough compelling features to earn a good deal of respect.
The aftermarket audio scene has been somewhat stagnant over the last decade. The biggest innovation was navigation and perhaps the addition of a USB host, but GUIs and even prices have stayed about the same. Pioneer has a real chance with the AppRadio to push the rest of the industry into embracing connected data and, in a way, learn to take a back seat to the smartphone by servering a more companion role — as it should be.
A WVGA (800 x 480) 6.1-inch capacitive multitouch serves up all the action. But there’s nothing behind it. The screen doesn’t flip down to reveal a fancy iPhone dock or even an optical drive. iPhones and iPod touches connect to the unit through a Dock Connector cable that hooks into the rear of the radio so it’s up to the installer to hide this wire.
Updates and more apps come by way of a Pioneer iOS app. When an iDevice is connected it unlocks all the wonders of Google Maps including search, routing, directions and even drop pins bookmarks. The iDevice serves up reformated apps to the AppRadio and Pioneer wrangled several popular apps to hit the device at launch and custom versions of RDIO and Pandora are currently available.
This iDevice dependency comes at a price, though. While the AppRadio can certainly stand on its own without a connected device, it loses most of its appeal. Also, Android owners need not apply. Pioneer isn’t servering their kind as Bluetooth connectivity seems only for phone functions and not for streaming content or data connectivity sharing. The AppRadio doesn’t have an optical drive and I worry about the capacitive screen handling direct sunlight. Still, the AppRadio is a welcomed addition to the car audio aftermarket scene.
Pioneer hasn’t announced the price or exact release date yet, but the press announcement states that the “AppRadio will be available in late June with a suggested retail price below $ 500.”
Side note: big props to our graphic guy Bryce for making a nearly accurate hardware rendering based on blurry FCC pics and several emails from a tester. The OS is clearly wrong, but he nailed the button design.
Pioneer is about ready to launch a car audio head unit that features an GUI remarkable similar to iOS, complete with apps, iTunes, and iPhone connectivity.
Meet the Pioneer AppRadio, model number SPH-DA01. This unannounced double-din head unit hit the FCC database yesterday and a tipster wrote in to answer many of our questions. Obviously, given the name, this is a radio designed around iPhone and iPod. The UI features homescreens, each with two rows of three app icons each. (like the mock-up shows) We hear it feels “exactly like the iOS experience” but since it doesn’t actually run iOS we’re mighty curious how the AppRadio will sit with Apple corporate.
iOS 4.1 devices (read: no Android or WinMo devices) connect to the AppRadio through a traditional USB Dock Connector cable and feeds the deck the phone’s contacts and music. Streaming apps are part of the system as our tipster saw live demos of Pandora and iHeartRadio and also mentions that social media apps are going to be part of the system. Although not specifically mentioned by our tipster, the iPhone must also provide the internet data stream as the FCC docs doesn’t mention any wireless radios.
The hardware looks a lot like an Apple device with a home button mounted under a glossy multitouch, capacitive 6.1-inch screen with a volume rocker mounted on the driver’s side. The Dock Connector cable plugs into a USB port on a rear-connecting cable adapter that also features an S-Video and RCA jack. There’s even an optional steering wheel-mounted control unit for controlling media playback.
The Pioneer head unit seems to feature most standard radio functions besides an optical drive. There is, however, a microsSD card slot, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM, GPS, and the ability to hook up a rear view camera. Satellite and HD radio were not mentioned but it seems unlikely given their standard nature this unit will launch without at least one — unless keeping the price low is paramount.
We hear that users will be able to add different apps on the radio, but not the exact process involved. It will likely be done through a microSD card, although a Pioneer iOS app could also serve up the apps as long as Apple approves.
Pioneer demoed PAIS, Platform for the Aggregation of Internet Services, at CES 2011. That system is designed to allow consumers to share data and internet connection across multiple devices, regardless of manufacturer. It’s a novel platform, but doesn’t seem to be in use here. The AppRadio lacks any sort of 802.11x radio and uses a 500Mhz NetLogic Microsystem Au1210 CPU, where PAIS is designed around the Intel Atom. Besides, the AppRadio doesn’t fit the description of different platforms talking together. This is all about iOS here.
Pioneer is clearly trying something new here with the fresh interface and lack of optical drive. If priced right, the AppRadio might be the savior of the dying aftermarket audio market. Companies like Pioneer, Kenwood, and Alpine all know how to make killer hardware, but the software is often horrible. Taking iOS’ styling cues and navigation paths sounds like lawsuit bait, but at least the deck will be pretty.
[special thanks to Bryce, our graphical ninja for the mockup]
Fresh PioneerÂ CorporationÂ docs just landed in the FCC database of a so-called AppRadio, or as it’s named in one document, iPhone Control Receiver.Â The unit, SPH-DA01, has a whole host of testing documents in the database but only two are are all that interesting. The user manual names this device AppRadio and then there’s an unflatteringÂ picture that shows a center-mounted iPhone button.
Unfortunately said manual seems to be only the first couple pages and not the entire thing, leaving more questions than answers. The manual doesn’t have any screenshots, fancy graphics orÂ descriptionsÂ supporting theÂ tantalizinglyÂ name. However, in standardÂ FCC operatingÂ procedure, there are external and internal photos of the unit and the external one clearly shows a glossy unit with an iPhone-ish center mounted button and a volume rocker off to the side. The whole design is a clearÂ departureÂ from Pioneer’s traditionally style that generally includes lightedÂ capacitiveÂ buttons and a matte screen.
The rest of the documents talk about iPhone connectivity but that’s a standard feature on today’s car audio head units. Still, this one just feels right. That button, the model numberÂ clearlyÂ describingÂ a first-gen device, even the timing as Apple is pushing into more niche markets makes this one feel legit. Hopefully Pioneer or Apple doesn’t keep this one under wraps for long. [FCC]
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