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Pioneer plans to be first with Apple CarPlay

Five aftermarket units to get Siri and more in July

Published: June 30, 2014 12:45 PM

Apple fans holding out for CarPlay in their vehicles may want to look to the auto aftermarket for the quickest way to put Siri in the passenger seat.

Pioneer has launched five aftermarket in dash receivers that are “CarPlay ready,” meaning that they’ll have full functionality, including Siri voice recognition, once a free and downloadable firmware update arrives in July. If things go according to schedule, that would put Pioneer months ahead of major automakers, at least 15 of which have announced plans to add CarPlay to their vehicles beginning in late 2014 or early 2015.

Available with a variety of features and either a 6.1- or 7.0-inch screen, the five CarPlay compatible NEX models all require professional installation, and mount in the standard double-din (180X100 mm) dashboard opening used for many factory audio systems. When connected with a compatible iPhone via cable, users can access music, navigation, and make and receive phone calls and text messages, all by using their voice.

A demonstration in the Pioneer booth at CE Week in New York City showed the same clean screen look and functionality as previously shown in CarPlay systems from automakers. Large icons and fonts mimic the look of an iPhone, and the familiar voice of Siri can patiently walk users through selecting music by artist, genre, or song, all using natural speech.

Operating Apple Maps for navigation is just as easy, with Siri responding to a spoken address or simple request for nearby coffee. And even text messages can be composed by voice, with Siri reading back the message before asking if you’d like to go ahead and send it.

We’ve started shopping for our own Pioneer NEX system, and we look forward to sampling CarPlay as soon as it’s available. We’ll keep you posted.

Compatible with iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c equipped with iOS 7.1, prices for Pioneer CarPlay ready units begin at $700 for the AVH-4000NEX, and rise to $1,400 for the AVIC-8000NEX.

Learn about the CarPlay alternative from Google, Android Auto.

—Jim Travers

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