Pioneer's AppRadio Mode, the feature that allows you to run smartphone apps on a compatible head unit, and Apple's iOS seem to run hand-in-hand when it comes to bug fixes. AppRadio Mode was launched back in 2011 and since then has seen many new features added and a lot of existing features develop issues.
Pioneer customers who own AppRadio Mode-capable head units have had a roller coaster ride so far. Most of AppRadio Mode's problems arise when Apple updates iOS. Couple that with the relatively slow support from Pioneer to catch up with the iOS updates and you have a recipe for frustration.
So when Apple released iOS 8.3 this week, how did it affect AppRadio Mode? Did existing issues get fixed? I took AppRadio Mode on a Pioneer AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120) for a spin with an iPhone 6 running iOS 8.3 and this is what I've found so far...
1. iOS 8 and the keyboard issue: When iOS 8 was released, most AppRadio Mode compatible apps would crash due to a bug in the new iOS 8 keyboard library. This issue was gradually fixed by individual app developers by incorporating third-party keyboards in their apps.
The app Waze never got updated to fix the issue which meant you could use the app in AppRadio Mode until you tried to input text. The app would crash at that point.
After updating to iOS 8.3, the keyboard issue seems to have been fixed. Waze works now and the keyboard shows up allowing you to input text.
2. Screen Resizing: Here's a short timeline of events regarding the screen resizing issue where the display would resize to a smaller size in AppRadio Mode...
iOS 6 - Screen resizing first appears. Many suggest it's due to notifications popping up in the background on your iPhone but that's not the problem. No fix available.
iOS 7 - Screen resizing issue partially fixed. AppRadio Mode displayed in fullscreen but screen flickers. No permanent fix available.
iOS 8 - Screen resizing is back! Back to iOS 6-esque issue. No fix.In iOS 8.3 the issue seems to have been fixed partially. When I first launched AppRadio Mode in iOS 8.3 today, the display appeared fullscreen with no dead space around the edges. Then I launched Stezza from AppRadio Mode - still no resizing. Started playing a song and the screen resized!
I disconnected the iPhone from the head unit and relaunched AppRadio Mode. The resizing had gone away. Everything worked well for about 3-4 minutes before the screen resized again when trying to change tracks in Stezza.
Seems like this issue is here to stay for a while. Sorry folks!
3. Third-Party Apps: The Stezza app froze a couple of times during testing. This happened especially when trying to browse through the music library. The app probably needs to be updated for iOS 8.3.
I tested other apps like EC Touch, AppRadioLIVE, CarBrowser and Extra Mile and these worked without any noticeable issues. Screen resizing affects these apps too and seems to be system wide in AppRadio Mode.
4. Bluetooth Streaming: No issues found here. Browsing through the music library over Bluetooth worked fine too.
No other issues found so far.
Have you tried out AppRadio Mode in iOS 8.3 yet? What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments below.
Stay tuned for more updates on this issue.