Like Ford’s Sync, Toyota’s Entune, Chrysler’s Uconnect and recent updates to GM’s OnStar, Pioneer’s just-introduced AppRadio harnesses the internet and the multitasking abilities of an Apple iPhone 4 to provide services like streaming internet radio and real-time traffic updates to you while driving.
The unit’s core is a 6.1-inch 800-by-480 pixel capacitive touch-screen. That’s a higher resolution than most factory-installed systems. Capacitive-touch technology offers improved touch capabilities compared with most touch-screen units that use resistive-touch technology. Bluetooth capability is also built in.
Unlike other systems, the Pioneer unit also offers smartphone-connected GPS capabilities, a function that most phones already have. You have to buy the MotionX-GPS application at the iTunes App Store to make the service work, though. The Inrix real-time traffic app and Google Maps also work with the system. Pandora and Rdio are the two internet radio services that are compatible with AppRadio. The system will also let you use YouTube and Netflix, too, but only when the car is in Park.
The Pioneer system also has a backup camera input, if you have a camera already installed in your car.
One limitation to the Pioneer radio is its compatible only with the iPhone 4. Android or BlackBerry owners are out of luck with this system. The unit comes with the iPhone 4 proprietary cable connector. The AppRadio doesn’t appear to be equipped with any satellite radio functionality either, though there’s an AM/FM tuner with a radio data system.
The unit is available now for $399, excluding third-party installation.