Engadget: We got a chance to experience Pioneer’s iOS-connected in-dash AppRadio in action this afternoon, and even got to see the thing running in a real-deal automobile. So did it meet our expectations? Well, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t know what to expect, but for what it promises, which is bringing the convenience and connectivity of iOS apps to your car, we suppose it does a fine job — even if it only supports a handful apps at the moment. More after the break.
Setting up AppRadio is a relatively simple affair — you just connect your fourth gen iPhone or iPod touch via the proprietary 30-pin connector, push a button and you’re in. Once there, you choose from a series of options — Radio, iPod, Apps, or Phone — from a menu on the multitouch capacitive display. We didn’t get a chance to test out the phone, but the other three options were relatively straightforward. The radio is set up in a pretty simple fashion, but we imagine the lack of physical buttons will take some getting used to — you won’t be able to blindly reach out and fiddle with the keys right out the gate. When you hit the app button, you’ll have to have one of the four — Pioneer says it expects more to come before the big launch — approved apps running before a scrollable list appears. Once you’re in any of the apps, controls are relatively simple, but you’ll have to return to your phone or iPod to switch between applications. Multi-touch controls, including pinch-to-zoom work well, and all of the apps we tested moved pretty swiftly.
Our big gripe here — and it is a big one — is that AppRadio is short on apps. There are currently only four official apps running on the system: Rdio, Pandora, INRIX, and MotionX-GPS Drive. The first two, are, as you might already know, music apps, and the last two are a GPS and traffic app, respectively. All of these applications have been designed specifically to meet Pioneer’s standards, with a focus on safety. When it comes to Pandora, that means you won’t be able to set up any new stations while driving and, similarly, search functions have been disabled on both Rdio and Pandora. That also means you won’t be seeing all the apps the App Store has to offer popping up on your dash — so don’t expect to play Angry Birds while sitting in rush hour traffic. Like we said before, Pioneer says it expects more apps to show up in the future, but we’ll just have to wait and see.