Despite the iPhone being on the market for years now, very few cars are deeply integrated with the platform. The same can be said for Android, though we’re starting to see greater compatibility emerge, such as Ford’s Sync system, thought that requires owning a relatively new car. Not everyone has that luxury and although the tape converter is a solid old school option, or installing a USB to RCA plug is another, it hardly provides an integrated experience and the sound quality we’ve come to expect from our stereo systems.
Enter Pioneer’s AppRadio 2, a car stereo head unit that allows you to plug in your smartphone (Android or iOS) and control all of its commands without laying a finger to the screen – otherwise known as a ticket waiting to happen. Last year the company released the first iteration of this car stereo head unit, but reviews we’re lack luster due to sluggish performance. Now, they’re back with the second version and it boasts some improvements. Unfortunately, we can speak to the speed or fluidity of the AppRadio 2, but we can tell you that they’ve increased the size of the capacitive touchscreen to 7-inches (almost an inch larger) and folded in Android compatibility. Aside from that, the AppRadio2 sports the same ampage (MOSFET 50×4), 24 station presets, compatibility with a backup camera and a GPS antenna for improved mapping accuracy as the first.
Now, in terms of compatible apps, the AppRadio 2 will work with Google Maps (iOS, Android), Pandora, Rdio, photos, iTunes and a few more. That means you can control your smartphone’s applications without having to touch the actual handset. There is also Bluetooth connectivity and a mic for hands free calling, which means getting pulled over for messing with your phone become a non-issues, though we’re left wondering if SIRI will play nice (it didn’t in the GM cars we tested). Unfortunately, they’ve failed to integrate Spotify or Rhapsody into the mix of apps, which is a crying shame, especially considering their popularity – hopefully those will arrive soon.
The Pioneer AppRadio2 will release in April or May and costs $599, a $200 premium over the original AppRadio.