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Three Play With CarPlay

LAS VEGAS – At least three aftermarket autosound companies have developed new in-dash head units that will appeal to households that own a mix of iPhones and Android smartphones.

Pioneer, Kenwood and Parrot went to International CES to unveil head units that incorporate both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay technology, and Pioneer will be first out of the gate when it ships a trio of products in March. They’ll be followed by two Kenwood heads targeted to ship in late May. Parrot shipments weren’t disclosed.

CarPlay and Android Auto enable head-unit touchscreens to display a driver-friendly UI that controls key apps on USB-connected Android and Apple smartphones. Apps include a phone’s music library, navigation apps, and select musicstreaming apps.

Here’s what the companies disclosed:

Pioneer: The company was the first aftermarket supplier to offer CarPlay last year via free firmware updates for five Networked Entertainment eXperience (NEX) in-dash multimedia receivers and multimedia/navigation receivers. The company’s fourth-generation mech-less AppRadio head unit also got Car Play.

Alpine followed with a mech-less CarPlay head unit.

This year, Pioneer plans March availability of five new second-generation NEX head units, all with CarPlay and three with Android Auto. Those three are the $1,400-suggested AVIC-8100NEX, $1,200 AVIC-7100NEX, and the $700 AVH-4100NEX multimedia receiver, which can be equipped with an optional add-on navigation module. The CarPlay-only heads are the $900 AVIC-6100NEX and $750 AVIC-5100NEX.

The three new Pioneer heads also feature the company’s AppRadio Mode technology, which enables the head units’ touchscreens to display the GUI and video of newer HDMI-connected iPhones and many HDMI/ MHL-connected Android phones. AppRadio Mode also enables the heads to control a greater selection of smartphone apps than can currently be controlled via CarPlay and Android Auto.

Kenwood: The company’s two products are the eXcelon-series DDX9902S and Kenwood DDX9702S double-DIN CD/DVD multimedia receivers, both with 7-inch touchscreens. They’re targeted to ship in May. Both will be the top-end multimedia receivers in their respective series, but pricing hasn’t been announced.

Both models also feature HDMI/MHL input, enabling the touchscreens to mirror the display of an iPhone or MHL- and HDMI-enabled Android smartphone. Drivers also gain in-dash touchscreen control over all Android apps and select iPhone apps running on the HDMI-connected phones. Both models also feature HD Radio and port to accept an iDataLink Maestro module.

Parrot: The code-named RNB6 is an in-dash navigation receiver that runs on the Lollipop 5.0 OS and incorporates CarPlay and Android Auto, a dash camera, and ability to plug into a vehicle’s databus to display vehicle diagnostics. Price and ship date weren’t disclosed.

For their part, Clarion and Alpine declined to discuss future plans for either Car Play or Android Auto.