Pioneer-AppRadioEarlier today Pioneer has showed us the Pioneer AppRadio, an in-dash device that integrates the iPhone 4 to your car in a way that no other solution does. AppRadio is basically a multi-touch display that is designed to be mounted and completely integrated to your car. You can view it as a peripheral for the iPhone 4, where the apps are displayed. In order to run on the AppRadio, iPhone apps have to be modified to be rendered on a secondary screen. This is usually a simple step that many developers could probably do in a couple of days. The iPhone 4 connects to AppRadio via a standard Apple 30-pin connector.For safety reasons, some app functions will be locked if the parking brake is not being detected as “engaged”. If you wonder, most cars do have such a detector that can be linked to AppRadio at install time. Functions that are distracting for drivers like “searches” may be disabled, and each app can have different settings.

At the moment, there are only a few apps that are available, but because they should be relatively easy to port, Pioneer is hopeful that more developers will develop “Pioneer Centric Apps”. Google Maps works, and INRIX, MotionX-GPS Drive, Rdio, and Pandora Radio are available as well.

AppRadio is really about iPhone 4 integration, and although Pioneer did not talk about an Android version, they have certainly left the door open. I believe that, today, iOS has an off-screen rendering API that is more suitable for AppRadio’s needs, but Android will probably catch-up in a not-so-distant future.

The pricing remains an big variable. At “less than $500”, AppRadio could possibly compete with car makers’ in-dash options. However, the price of the installation will vary depending on the brand of your car, so you’ll have to do some research. Also, keep in mind that some iPhone apps won’t work properly if you don’t have an active 3G connection.

All in all, this is exactly the reason why I dream of more standardization in the auto-industry. I would love to be able to remove my in-dash system and replace it with something new/better. AppRadio relies on the iPhone 4 (and beyond) to be the “brains” of the operation, and that makes it future-ready to some extent. At some point, there will be a need to get a higher resolution display, and possibly one that’s a bit more sensitive.

In the past, Pioneer has successfully introduced XM radio as an add-on, that later became a standard option. Maybe history can repeat itself, but it’s most definitely too early to tell. What do you think?

Specifications highlights

  • 6.1″ 800×640 multi-touch display
  • Bluetooth Hands-Free calling
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Works with iPhone 4 and iPod Touch gen 4

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