Hands-on: Pioneer AppRadio at CES 2013 [VIDEO]


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.


Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Why can’t they just build a double din unit with android that has wifi so that I can teather it to my phone. Just take a Samsung galaxy player, add an amp and we are good!

      1. Any experience with one of these. Totally interested, but I have a feeling they arent the greatest

  2. Limits are NOT good….

    1. Go get in a car crash while you check your Twitter mentions then.

  3. I use ArLiberator. It basically turns the head unit into an Android device. When I get a new phone I’m just gonna keep my galaxy nexus in the car hooked up to the unit.

    1. This. My friend has this AppRadio 2 with AR.Liberator and OMG.. if you have a phone that outputs MHL/HDMI you essentially have complete control of your phone while it is mirrored to your AppRadio.. It’s the future.. The only improvements I am looking for is wireless video

  4. Do Not Buy.

  5. Yeah, avoid. The apps suck, don’t work etc.

    Several different types of head units running Android on Ebay. The one that gets most recommendations are the ones running Android 2.etc for $389 ish.


    Some reviews on “brand” name Android car stereos… Tho most on there recommend certain knock offs on Ebay.

  7. Man, whats up with the lack of articles? lol I thought it was the weekend for a sec… cmon phandroid pick up your @#% ^_^

  8. Umm, Mr Krause you seem to have missed out an important detail. This head unit has been out for quite a while and it hasnt improved at all. I have owned one for months and I absolutely HATE it. Everytime your phone gets an update it breaks the sync abilities. When you get a call while using Pandora it drops and needs to reconnect. No mute button. No Google Nav integration on head unit. No USB or Aux inputs.I really cant say anything good about this unit.

    1. Looks like I will be waiting on this. Or just integrate a 7″ tablet

    2. You need a program called App Radio Liberator. With that, you entire phone screen goes to appradio and all appradio touches go to phone.

  9. What could possibly go wrong?

  10. I’d prefer something that just mirrors my smartphone display but also lets me control it through the head unit display. I think that’s the only way anything like this will ever pick up and not be obsolete in a year.

    1. Get the app Arliberator and hook it up through this head unit and it does just that. It’s like having a jelly Bean device built into the dash. I was hoping they would announce a new app radio this year though.

  11. I like the idea of being able to do it all.

    I really don’t want it to mirror my phone. . My phone is already 5 inches. This thing just a tad larger, and for what? More money and to use the horsepower in my phone?

    No thanks. Like the cameras that are coming out, i would rather see an OS upgradeable head unit that doesn’t need my phone but will behave like my phone. Only interaction I would want is Bluetooth calling, audio and maybe use phone as storage device.

    I have a Pioneer x2500bt … It’s ok. The only way can interact with my EVO LTE is streaming Bluetooth audio (music, tuneinradio, anything audio), calls and Pandora (will display cover art from Pandora wirelessly). I can’t use my phone as a storage device not play anything from phone via cable. Bluetooth only.

    The head unit does a great job at interacting with an iPod physically connected…

    It can play divx movies via USB thumb drive it hard disc drive or CD/DVD, it plays DVD movies…. Has video out and in, separate port for backup camera, etc. really, almost does all I need.

    So really, a head unit running Android Jellybean, has wifi and can tether to phone would be ideal, DVD, play divx/xvid via USB or disc, has video in and out, Bluetooth, etc etc would be ideal. :)

    See links above.

    Seriously considering sending back my Pioneer and grabbing one of these things off of Ebay. Shrug.

  12. And App Radio 2 has been out for a while.

    As mentioned, get the third party app.

  13. This may be the most ghetto-ist thing ever, but it works. My radio is behind my tablet. As you can see I am very fortunate enough to have my Nexus 7 fit snuggly in my radio area. So I don’t think I’ll need this anytime soon. And I also don’t want to get another car anytime soon.

    I have a 1995 Cutlass Ciera. I was like I wonder if my Nexus would fit there and bam. I was so happy. Visualistor, a Visualizer app, oh my gosh!! I’m the coolest person on the streets. LoL!!

    And of course tether to my phone for navigation. =.P Geeking out big time. And yes that is a TPU case on it. Wouldn’t want to scratch up my Nexus. =.P

  14. I have the galaxy nexus. the display resolution is bigger than the resolution of the appradio. is this a problem? how does appradio handle this? and someone used AR liberator? is the touchscreen gesture usage ok? can someone recommend to buy this solution? how long does the system to boot?

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