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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Will We See A New AppRadio From Pioneer Every Year? [Opinion]

The smartphone landscape changes every year. Especially with iPhone. We've seen a new iPhone (sometimes more than one) every year for the past 5 years now. With every new iPhone or iOS software version, new issues arise with AppRadio compatibility. This begs the question, "will we see a new AppRadio from Pioneer annually?"

This is a fair question to ask because Pioneer, like other third party hardware makers, have to either keep the firmwares that run their devices up-to-date to remain compatible with iOS or overhaul the hardware altogether. New hardware is more profitable for such companies which sometimes choose not to update older firmware versions.

The last three AppRadios have been launched on a yearly basis. First generation AppRadio was a breakthrough device, bringing App integration to the car. It was announced and launched in 2011. Doesn't seem like a long time ago but the first generation AppRadio already feels like an outdated device. iOS 7 compatibility issues with iPhone 4/4S are well documented. The device doesn't support lightning connection found in the iPhone 5/5S/5C.

AppRadio 2 sported a larger 7-inch screen and was launched in 2012. It added lightning connectivity through an adapter and also Android compatibility. This was a breakthrough device too, bringing Android apps to your car.

The AppRadio 3 was launched earlier this year in two models. One with a DVD drive and the other without. It is fully compatible with lightning, 30-pin connection, MirrorLink devices and Android phones through MHL or HDMI. The smartphone compatibility list has grown considerably ever since the first AppRadio was launched.

New AppRadios have been showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which happens in Las Vegas during the first/second week of January each year. Official announcements have come from Pioneer in April each year with the device launch happening in June/July. This timetable of events has been consistent over the last three years.

January 2014 is a little over two months away. Should we start wondering about an AppRadio 4 already? Sure, why not?

If we do see a Pioneer AppRadio 4 early next year what updates would it have? For one thing, it will be fully compatible with a lightning connection. Hopefully that bulky Digital AV adapter will be inbuilt with just one lightning cable emanating from the device to connect your iPhone to.

Also, the "iPod" icon on the AppRadio would probably be functional (it is currently NOT). You will be able to play your music directly from there. No need for using a third-party app like CarMediaPlayer.

Maybe the screen will get a little bigger and the interface will be snappier. The screen can't get too big as it has to constrain to double-DIN dimensions. Surely, a higher resolution screen isn't out of the question. Did I hear someone say retina display?

AppRadio 4 may well come in two models like the AppRadio 3, with and without a DVD drive. I'm not sure how popular the DVD model has been though. Not many people use disks anymore, and most media is now digital. So the disk version may be discontinued.

CES 2014 will be one to look forward to. 2014 in general is bound to be an interesting year for car entertainment with Apple's 'iOS in the Car' being integrated in more vehicles. A car stereo from Apple isn't too far-fetched either.

Top image source: Pioneer Electronics
CES image from

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