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Pioneer: CarPlay & AppRadio Perfect Together

Long Beach, Calif. — Pioneer will add Apple’s CarPlay technology to five aftermarket head units already equipped with Pioneer’s proprietary AppRadio technology because the technologies are complementary, said Ted Cardenas, marketing VP for the company’s car electronics division.

Pioneer announced that it could become the first autosound company to bring Apple’s CarPlay to the aftermarket when it delivers an early-summer firmware update for its five currently available NEX in-dash head units.

The NEX heads, priced from a suggested $700 to $1,400, require the use of an Apple 5, 5s or 5c with iOS 7.1 and a Lightning-to-USB cable. Once the Lightning-equipped iPhone is plugged into the head unit, the CarPlay user interface automatically launches, the company said.

Four of the head units are navigation/multimedia receivers, and the lowest price model is a multimedia receiver.

None of the company’s other current head units are upgradable to add CarPlay, Cardenas noted. He declined to say when Pioneer would offer new head units equipped with CarPlay.

Pioneer added CarPlay to heads already equipped with AppRadio Mode, Cardenas said, because “there are distinct differences between AppRadio Mode and CarPlay.” Depending on how they connect their Apple 5, 5c or 5s iPhone to the head units, consumers will be able to choose one feature set or the other, he said.

CarPlay delivers “a better [user] experience than any available so far,” focuses on controlling four core iPhone functions (voice calls, messaging, stored and streamed music, and Apple maps), and integrates the four core functions, Cardenas said.

In citing one example of core-function integration, Cardenas pointed out that if an incoming text message includes an address, then the address will appear automatically in the dashboard display of Apple’s Maps app for quick selection.

CarPlay also enables Siri voice control of the four core functions, though control is also available through the heads’ touchscreens and hard buttons. Also with CarPlay, Siri reads back text messages and lets drivers dictate responses.

In comparison, AppRadio Mode enables control of a greater variety of apps, all of which are AppRadio-enabled, though the apps don’t work together in an integrated manner.

In AppRadio Mode, the heads also do not deliver Siri control of AppRadio-enabled apps, and Siri is limited to control of hands-free calling and controlling any function that Siri does in stand-alone mode, such as asking for sports scores or directions to a destination. The destination, however, won’t appear automatically appear on an onscreen map.

One of the biggest differences between AppRadio Mode and CarPlay is that AppRadio Mode enables control of AppRadio apps on select Android phones, not just on Apple phones.

“CarPlay is a 100 percent Apple interface that [unlike AppRadio Mode] requires no additional apps to download or update. It controls core Apple functions, and cabling is simpler,” Cardenas added.

To enable CarPlay features, compatible iPhones connect to CarPlay heads via a Lightning-to-USB cable that comes with an iPhone. iPhones connected to access AppRadio functionality in four of the NEX heads, on the other hand, require a $50 HDMI connection kit from Pioneer, Apple’s $49 Lightning-to-digital A/V connector, and the standard Lightning-to-USB cable.

CarPlay was developed by Apple mainly for use by automakers, and, so far, automakers have announced that CarPlay would be available this calendar year in only a handful of vehicles: the Ferrari FF, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo’s XC90 SUV. Apple, however, has also claimed that many other auto manufacturers are working with it to develop CarPlay-enabled systems.

CarPlay also lets users control iTunes Radio, Spotify and iHeartRadio, and Apple has promised CarPlay will support more streaming apps in the future.