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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pandora Radio - CarPlay Vs. Android Auto Vs. Pioneer NEX - UI Comparison [Pictures]

Pandora Radio has been one of the few apps that is compatible with various platforms. Even before Apple CarPlay and Android Auto existed, Pandora was available in car dashboards through multiple aftermarket head unit interfaces and car infotainment systems.

So I thought it would be interesting to see what Pandora looks like on three different platforms I have access to - Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Pioneer NEX. Take a look below and see the differences...

Pandora Radio - CarPlay Vs. Android Auto Vs. Pioneer NEX

Devices Used: For demonstrating the Pandora Radio interface differences I used a Pioneer AVH-4100NEX, Pioneer AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120), iPhone 6 running iOS 9.0.2, and Google Nexus 5 running Android 6.0 Lollipop.

1. Station List

2. Now Playing Screen

3. Thumb Up/Thumb Down

To Summarize

1. The Winner: The best interface among the three is a matter of opinion. I like the Android Auto interface for looks but for functionality the Pioneer NEX interface takes the cake. The CarPlay interface is basic.

2. Pioneer NEX functions: Pandora on Pioneer NEX gives you the best user experience. You can create and delete stations, browse stations by genre, and access system menus right from the Now Playing screen.

3. Pioneer AppRadio Mode: Pandora Radio is not compatible with Pioneer AppRadio Mode anymore. The app used to have compatibility a while back. Now, when you launch Pandora on your smartphone in AppRadio Mode, you see this screen on the head unit...

4. Thumb Up/Thumb Down: Call this nitpicking, but favoriting a song with a thumb up or thumb down is easier to do in Android Auto or Pioneer NEX. In CarPlay, you have to tap the little menu/option icon to bring up the thumb up/down option...

Additionally, Android Auto has a bookmark option (see picture above) where you can bookmark a song, artist or station at any time.

5. Phone Screen Lockout: While using Pandora in CarPlay and Android Auto, you are locked out from using the phone for other things. This may be for safety reasons. In Android Auto, the phone displays the dark Android Auto splash screen, whereas in CarPlay, this screen is displayed...

Of course, you can press the home button and be brought to the springboard on the iPhone, but doing so will remove the Pandora interface from your head unit.

When using Pandora in Pioneer NEX, however, you are free to use any other app if you like. The Pandora interface remains displayed on the head unit while your phone could be displaying something else. This is useful when getting directions, for example. With your phone mounted on your dashboard, you can use any navigation app on your phone and listen to Pandora on the head unit at the same time.

6. Overall: Overall, Pandora Radio works identically as far as streaming goes on all platforms. I didn't encounter any specific issues. I have been using Pandora for over a week now on all three platforms.

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