By Joseph Palenchar on Jan 13 2012 - 3:21pm

Aftermarket Autosound As Smartphone Platform

Aftermarket car audio and car-A/V systems have turned into platforms that bring smartphone functionality to the dash, but not just for streaming music from a smartphone through a car stereo system.

Companies such as Pioneer, JVC, and Kenwood are connecting smartphones to select multimedia head units to turn the head units into more affordable versions of in-dash navigation systems.

These heads display real-time maps streamed from navigation apps running on USB-connected iPhones, and they let drivers view navigation maps in real time on a head unit’s larger screen with voice-prompted turn-by-turn guidance.

With this capability, iPhone owners can save up to $500 by buying a multimedia head unit instead of a full-fledged in-dash multimedia/navigation system.

Pioneer took smartphone integration a giant step farther with the 2011 launch of its $399 AppRadio, a double-DIN AM/FM RDS head unit whose primary source of content is a USB-connected iPhone. AppRadio’s capacitive 6.1-inch WVGA touchscreen controls and displays iPhone-stored music, video, photos, contacts for use with hands-free Bluetooth calling, calendar items, and Google Maps local search results when a Pioneer AppRadio app is installed on an iPhone.

AppRadio also controls and displays multiple iPhone-stored apps such as Pandora Internet Radio, Inrix’s real-time traffic app, and additional Internet music sources.

Back in the mid 1980s when Alpine launched the first trunk-mount audio-cassette changer, who could have envisioned how car audio would evolve in the 21st century.

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