Android has taken ahold of the mobile market. It’s emerging on smart TVs (though it still has a way to go). The next frontier could be in-car entertainment, and Pioneer is offering an intriguing solution for bridging your car stereo with your smartphone. Unlike some devices we have seen in the past, AppRadio doesn’t put Android into the dash. Rather, it creates an easy-to-use link with the device you already own.
When paired via Bluetooth by way of an Android app, AppRadio can be controlled either using the in-dash unit’s touchscreen or your smartphone’s screen. Considering the radio is meant to be operated while driving, we suspect controlling directly from a phone isn’t recommended — unless a passenger is doing it. In order to cut down on distractions the radio won’t allow access to your phone’s notifications.
Overall build quality was slightly lacking. The touchscreen display was pretty low resolution and had trouble registering anything but the most deliberate gestures. Still, the screen is capacitive and supports multi-touch. The head unit will be fine for navigation, radio, and other simple apps, but don’t look to it as the centerpiece of a high-end in-car video experience.
What, exactly, is next for Android and automobiles remains to be seen, but AppRadio is an intriguing concept. Right now, though, it needs a little bit of fine tuning and a better focus. Key for the car experience is paring down what Android offers to the basics, providing useful services without creating unneeded distractions on the road.