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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pioneer AppRadio 2: Initial Review And Thoughts [Pictures]

AppRadio 2: Installed and reviewed
After a long wait, Pioneer's AppRadio 2 (SPH-DA100), was released and made available for purchase yesterday for $499. I was lucky to get my hands on one at Best Buy soon after availability. The install was fairly similar to the AppRadio (SPH-DA01), but took a while. So the device is installed and ready for its first review. Here goes!

Just as soon as I turned AppRadio 2 on for the first time and set up the time and date, I noticed how snappy and quick the interface is without the iPhone connected. Really breezy! Once the iPhone is connected, there is a slight difference in that smoothness, but is hardly noticeable in most apps.

Plenty of warning screens to click through
The larger screen is a definite eye catcher. I also like the jutting lip of the button bar. The brushed silver finish of the bar makes it stand out too. As for those buttons, the 'Menu' and 'Back' buttons are only functional when an Android device is connected. Clicking them with the iPhone connected pops up a message that tells you that.

The physical attributes are a nice upgrade
Clicking the home button from any screen other than the AppRadio app home screen launches the AppRadio app. Pioneer has persevered with this functionality on AppRadio 2 from the previous model. A bit annoying, I might add.

The initial 'Caution' screen still pops up explaining the safety warnings. On clicking 'OK' the home screen shows up. The first thing you'll notice is the extra 'Pandora' icon at the bottom making it 5 icons instead of 4 on AppRadio. And, you can now swipe to scroll those icons, which reveals an additional icons. 'Settings', 'OFF' and 'Display OFF'. Yes, now you can turn off AppRadio 2 completely, including the display. Pressing the 'Home' button turns it back on.

Now you can scroll through menu home screen icons and actually turn off the radio too
The 'Settings' menu has been extended to give things like Preout selection, Keyboard language, a feature called 'Ever Scroll', Bluetooth settings etc. Audio settings can be changed only when an audio source is running.

The 'Settings' menu
The Radio interface has been completely overhauled. The new one is slick looking. The system wallpaper shows up behind the radio interface with your saved presets along the left. If the radio station broadcasts track information for songs then that information is available too. The clock shows in the upper left corner with FM/AM selection buttons at the top of the screen.

The revamped Radio interface
Setting up your iPhone using the bluetooth connection was easy. This interface is also different from before. Access to contact list, keypad and phone settings is available all in one place. The ring tone can be changed and an auto-answer function is also available. Another feature available while on a call is the 'Private' feature which when clicked, switches the audio over to the iPhone instead of your car's speakers. The call volume can be adjusted too.

The new 'Phone' interface
Keypad screen with the new 'Private' mode

Probably the biggest difference here is the ability to swipe to scroll. Although, the process isn't very fluid and feels kinda sticky. But it's there and is a welcome change. The iPod interface on the whole is revamped. The system wallpaper shows in the background. There is a 'iPod' button with a magnifying glass next to it which when clicked brings up the iPod menus. From here you can access your videos by clicking the respective icon along the left. You can also scan your library alphabetically using the 'ABC' button on the top.

Swipe to scroll now enabled
iPod Music and Video menus

Videos can be accessed from the iPod menus. On selecting a video to play it starts playing in the background while the menus stay up on the screen. You need to press the 'X' at the top right corner for the menus to disappear. This is a little annoying. But videos look great on the 7-inch screen and fill the screen up. Aspect ratios can be toggled between 'Fill', 'Zoom' and 'Normal'.

Videos start playing in the background requiring to close this menu to watch them
Videos look great on the 7-inch screen
Launching the AppRadio app when prompted brings up the Allow/Ignore pop up on the iPhone and an Warning on the AppRadio 2 similar to the first generation AppRadio. You need to click 'Allow' on the iPhone for this to disappear. Similarly launching any other app that isn't already running in the background from the AppRadio app on the stereo brings up this warning again. Once allowed, this warning doesn't appear again until you disconnect the iPhone.

The AppRadio app interface is similar to the first generation AppRadio. You can swipe to scroll between icon screens, toggle between small and large icons and launch apps directly from here. By default the system wallpaper shows up in the background but this can be changed by accessing the feature from the iPhone while it's disconnected.

The AppRadio app interface
I tried Rdio, MIXTRAX, AUPEO!, BestParking, INRIX, Navfree, StreamS and Livio and they all seem to work like they did on the original AppRadio. I haven't run into anything different yet. There are a few issues that I found with MotionX and Extra Mile which I will discuss in a separate post.

These type of warning screens pop up way too often
Warnings appear on the iPhone too
The Pandora icon is now on the home screen and you can launch the app right from here. If it isn't already opened or running in the background on your iPhone, the AppRadio 2 will prompt you to launch it. One major difference is the system wallpaper is now visible in the background of the Pandora interface. The interface felt faster and smoother than before.

1. While listening to music from the iPod app, the radio or any other music app, pressing the home button launches the AppRadio app on the iPhone and AppRadio 2. During this process the music stops playing for a couple of seconds, at least, and then resumes. This is very irritating.

2. If you have, for example, AUPEO! playing already and you try to switch to the stock iPod app, the currently playing music app shows up in the iPod interface. Take a look at the picture below to see what I mean.   Pandora is playing on the iPhone and I have the iPod app opened on the AppRadio 2. Pandora now shows on this iPod interface. I'm not sure if this is deliberate or a glitch, but I don't like it.

Pandora playing in the stock iPod app
3. Launching the iPod app on the AppRadio 2 starts playing music automatically.

4. Every time the home button is pressed the AppRadio 2 tries to launch the AppRadio app.

5. On a few occasions the resolution got resized and did not fill up the entire screen. It looked like it was being displayed on a 6.1-inch AppRadio screen with black borders all around. I could not repeat this action but it happened at least thrice. The video sometimes did not fill up the screen.

6. If you try playing a video on the AppRadio that's not in the iPod app, it can't be done the old way by starting the video on the iPhone and clicking the 'Apps' icon. The way to do this is to click the 'Apps' icon first, let the AppRadio app load on both, the iPhone and the AppRadio 2, then switch to the video source on the iPhone. 

I'm sure there are other issues that will surface. I must say overall I am disappointed with how the whole experience went. Using AppRadio 2 for the first time was quite tedious. Maybe because I'm not used to it yet. Although the overall interface is snappy a lot of issues still persist. Scrolling in the iPod menus has been enabled but it isn't smooth, the home button launching the AppRadio app is still annoying and all the popups that make you click 'OK' or 'Ignore' could have been left out. 

I hope this time around Pioneer will keep their ears open to customers as to which issues need to be fixed. This device is still not perfect. Well, no device is but the whole AppRadio experience still has a long way to go before it becomes user-friendly.

I will keep posting the issues I run in to as we go along. I am still not sure if AppRadio 2 can be fully recommended as an upgrade if you already own an AppRadio. Apart from the snappier interface and larger screen the basics have stayed the same. Stay tuned for more. ARWReview

AppRadio 2 disappointing?


  1. I belive that most of the new appradio 2 interface features would work on appradio 1, Pioneer are qualified assholes if the do not port the same features to the original appradio, they're all software features.

    1. Well with the smoothness aspect it all depends on whether or not the original has enough horsepower to handle the new graphics and effects. Remember, whenever you're in app mode all the app radio is is an amplifier with a touchscreen. All the animations, scrolling, and general responsiveness are the result of the iPhone and it's processing capabilities. None of that is the AppRadio.

    2. The general responsiveness is definitely way better on the AppRadio 2 compared to AppRadio. AppRadio 2 has a better processor and better firmware than the first one. The better firmware makes quite a difference. I think very little depends on the iPhone when you compare the two because I used the same iPhone in testing both devices.

    3. Everything else aside, how is the sound quality on the AppRadio 2?

    4. I have a sub connected through an amp and it sounds pretty good. I'm getting a second amp sometime soon for my door speakers. The audio settings can be tweaked to your preference. Sound quality obviously depends on your speaker system.

  2. Thank you for reporting about the appradio. I have been waiting for this one since the first appradio came out because I don´t like apple OS and I am using android.

    I have to agree it all looks so disappointing that I will probably wait for the 3rd or 4th version. Why don´t they just make the hardware? Use HTC sense car or even your default android screen on the car display. And then 800x600 omg ... come one my new htc one x has 1280x720 already.

    Let´s hope someone will finally build a sophisticated screen you can put in place of the radio/cd unit in your car. Let the user decide what is getting displayed on the screen. This crappy pioneer app looks like first gen really...

    But again thanks for reporting about this market segment, happy easter! :)

  3. I have audio when playing a movie but no video - any advice parking break is engaged


    1. Is it a movie in your 'Videos' app or YouTube/Netflix? If it's a movie in your 'Videos' app once it starts playing try disengaging the parking brake and reengaging it. Otherwise you have to do it the way I've explained it in number 6 under the Issues section in the post.

  4. Justin, yes, I ran into the same problem you had playing with the demo unit BestBuy had in display. I got the video to show up by going into the picture settings and adjusting thie picture settings past the default 0 settings. Once I did this, it seemed to play the video just fine. Hope this helps!

  5. So I have tried Appradio 2 with Android. I wanted to let everyone know that I successfully was able to use a HDMI cable, a MHL to HDMI adapter, a usb to micro usb, and the iPhone USB cable included to connect my Android phone. Cost me about 20 bucks, instead of the 100 dollar Pioneer cable.

    1. OH and I also used a Galaxy Nexus phone. It worked.... sort of. Not sure if I am going to keep the appradio2.

    2. Paco,

      Did you already have these or did you buy them? Can you send links of what they are?

    3. I had them actually. But you can get everything on amazon.

    4. When you say it worked with a Galaxy Nexus, sort of, what didn't work right? I have a Nexus and I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on buying this for one of my cars.


    5. Answer the question, Paco.

  6. Thanks for the detailed and candid review!

    I have had bad experiences with Pioneer so I'm wary of their new products. I saw one post on your blog that faulted Pioneer's customer service. Have you had any experience with them? My experience is abyssmal.

    Thanks again for the review.

  7. I checked out the App radio today at best buy. I used a regular micro hdmi to hdmi (rocketfish brand) connected to my Android razr maxx. It was able to mirror the image from my phone to the unit and use all the touch function. Here a quick personal review


    -Pandora worked flawlessly.
    -The unit was responsive and quick.
    -screen was bright and clear.
    -Regular micro hdmi to hdmi cable worked (sort of)
    -Able to zoom in and out using the map app very quickly
    -Can multi task. I ran Pandora and the map app at the same time.
    -videos and pictures look awesome

    -drained about 10% of charge in my battery in about 30-45 mi of use.
    -had to manually open the pioneer app to have the phone detected by the unit
    -I was not able to see what I was typing when using the map app. I was trying to search for a store nearby and it was not able to find it. When I searched for a zip code it was able to find it with no issues.
    -My phone and the unit would randomly disconnect and reconnect via bluetooth
    -Unable to see traffic condition while using the map app.
    - Currently only 2 third party apps are available for Android (pandora and aupeo).

    One of the employee had an Iphone and it seem to work better. Many more apps were available. The map feature worked flawless without the issues I describe while using it on my android phone. But he could not use Pandora and the map at the same time. I dont know if it is due to the Iphone not able to multi task. Also both pictured and videos were not separated.

    I guess I was expecting too much for it to work with the Android OS perfectly. I hope purchasing the android connection kit would fix some of the cons but not for and extra $100. Pioneer should have included them if they were trying to target the android community.

  8. Have you tried this unit with an actual ipod yet? According to the user manual it accepts a various array of older ipods which were not listed in the original units manual. I am excited about this because although I want to take advantage of the actual apps running through iphone 4S, I really want to use this an ipod interface with my 80gb classic.

    1. does not work with a 80GB Ipod classic.

  9. I tried using a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable on my EVO 4G and no dice. I don't think this HU supports EVO 4G and Pioneer customer service could not confirm whether or not the EVO 4G works. Looks like all the HTC phones which are supported have a MHL port, which the EVO 4G does NOT. Oh well, had high hopes for this one.

  10. I installed the Appradio2 with additional android interface. My phone is Galaxy nexus i9250.
    The image is mirrored to the appradio all the time and the compatible apps work flawless.
    Unfortunately you can't use the appradio to control any other app :-(
    Also being able to control the standard phone-interface from the appradio would be a huge improvement. (read email, send sms ect...while parked)
    I mounted a KiDigi cradle in my car wich lets the hdmi signal pass trough :-)
    So my € 600 phone isn't lying around in the glovebox \o/

    The sound of this system is awesome! I have compo in the front, 6x9 in the back and a sub in the trunk. The built-in equalizer does a great job!

    I am pretty satisfied with the appradio2, although it still needs lots of improvement.
    Also a custom background option would be nice, all apps + phone GUI should be controled by the touchscreen of the appradio, colourschemes for the homescreen (clock) ect.... is on my wishlist!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Kind all time of day!

    At me to you a question on Pioneer AppRadio 2 SPH-DA100

    I live in Moscow and I have Samsung GT-I9100 Samsung GT-I9100 Galaxy S II phone (Android 4.0.3.), at us the new appendix "Yandex is very widespread. The navigator" (, you couldn't install this application on the phone and test on compatibility with AppRadio 2

    PS. long ago waited for emergence of AppRadio 2, whether but now I do not know it can support Russian applications....

    1. If I understand your question correctly, I don't think "Yandex Navigator" is AppRadio 2 compatible.

    2. Yes You have understood correctly, I realized that the "google maps" (google Navigator) are fully compatible?

    3. Google maps work but there are no voice commands. Try and see if Navfree or Extra Mile works in Russia.

    4. Thanks for the help, but in Navfree there are no cards to Russia, but the Extra Mile I did not find......
      I'll wait to appear in the stores, thanks for the help!

  12. I ran into a glitch were the phone’s call list and address book are apparently dropped when listening to the radio. The contacts briefly appear then change to “Unknown” and won’t dial out. This doesn’t happen when using iPod or Pandora.

  13. After using for an 30mins I find switching out from Navfree to CarMediaPlayer/iPod or anything Navfree restart and lost destination.

    Not a winner till it support Air Play.

    PS: The hand brake sensor CAN NOT be more shit!!

  14. I just bought it yesterday and I must say I am really pleased. I am waiting for my HDMI cable to arrive in order to try it with my Nexus.
    At the moment I am running it with my iPod Touch latest 2012 model.

    However I have noticed that there is variation to the sound volume ... sometimes 10 sounds good and some times sounds low ... I am not using ext amp or anything else.
    Has anyone experienced similar problems? I have a dodgy one :( :(

  15. That initial Caution screen is really annoying. I know Pioneer keeps it there as a liability issue, but they should consider the liability of people plowing into their driveway posts as they keep trying to hit that insensitive tiny OK screen. Why not allow users to defeat the damned screen after a week or so of use??? At the very least let the driver touch ANYWHERE on the screen to close the caution and get on with it.

  16. I am having a problem with the keyboard everytime when i type the keyboard goes away i have iphone 4

  17. you guys are all leaving out the fact it has no upgrade-ability! no a/v input (asside from back-up camera), no a/v output, no sirius xm or changer add-ons allowed. This unit, even at it's lowest price on the market being 250 bux, just isn't worth it!

  18. Great Information and post! It is very informative and suggestible for the user of solar energy, May I think it can be beneficial in coming days...

  19. Had anybody tried the NEW HTC ONE with the AppRadio?
    It works OK, But on th eAPPRADIO app and media player, the fonts & ICONS are TINY. both on the screen on the phone and ADDRADIO. Obviously a resolution issue.

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  21. Does this really work with Nokia N8 (It has an HDMI port and a dedicated USB port aside the charging port). Does it even work with any other symbian belle phones? I have used CarMode app on the Nokia N8 successfully connected via bluetooth with a Sony XAV unit but I'm not sure if it'll work with this. Besides there's no app like pioneer AppRadio on the Nokia store so I assume it may not work. Anyone please?

  22. I was wondering if the pioneer appradio is even remote control ready

  23. Did you have to download an app on your iPod?


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