By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Southfield, Mich. — Parrot continues to expand the selection of downloadable apps for its Asteroid-series of installed Android-based car-entertainment systems.
All four Asteroid systems are installed systems featuring embedded GPS and connectivity to smartphones for music streaming, access to Cloud-based services and hands-free phone calls.
The newest apps are navigation apps from TomTom and Navfree, bringing the app selection for the U.S. market to 19 unique titles, not all of which are compatible with all Asteroid models. The Tom Tom and Navfree apps, for example, are compatible with Parrot’s installed Smart and Tablet systems. The compatibility of another nav app, available from Waze, has been expanded from the Classic and Mini to the Smart and Tablet.
Most apps are free except for a parking app and the TomTom and iGo navigation apps.
Separately, Parrot launched a software update to enable use of the two new navigation apps on the Smart and Tablet, improve onboard GPS software, and deliver compatibility with more smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Parrott’s Asteroid series of products include the $599-suggested double-DIN Asteroid Smart, which is an in-dash car stereo with 6.2-inch multitouch touchscreen. Two others are dash-top products designed to connect to existing car stereo systems. Those two models are the $399 Asteroid Tablet with 5-inch capacitive touchscreen and the $299 Asteroid Mini with 3.2-inch non-touch display. The fourth Asteroid is a $349 Asteroid Classic in-dash single-DIN head unit.
The systems download apps via Bluetooth- or USB-tethered smartphone, USB cellular stick, or a USB onto which the app has been side-loaded from a PC. The Smart and Tablet also tether to smartphones and mobile hot spots via Wi-Fi.
Other apps include multiple navigation apps, multiple music-streaming apps, Facebook, and Asteroid Mail, which announces user’s email out loud.
To the list, Parrot just added TomTom Navigation, which is available at $47.99 for a version with U.S. maps, $69.99 for a version with U.S. and Canada maps, and $79.99 for a version with U.S., Canada and Mexico maps.
Unlike some navigation apps, the TomTom app uses onboard maps that are always accessible even without a cellular connection. The app features spoken-street names, points of interest, and other features available on TomTom PNDs.
Because the app is integrated with the Asteroid systems, it gently reduces music volume when it gives driving instructions, then turns the volume back up afterwards. The feature works with most third-party music apps. For taking hands-free calls, drivers can opt to program the app to mute voice instructions but continue to display visual instructions.
The new Navfree app accesses Navfree’s open-source map, which is updated via 400,000 worldwide registered members. With it, users can access voice instructions and route calculations and search for destinations through Google and Microsoft Bing.
All told, 17 apps are available for the Asteroid Smart and Tablet and 10 apps for the Classic and Mini. They are:
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