Apple CarPlay built up some hype earlier this year but the hype slowly died down as availability of the platform was limited to certain manufacturers. Changing cars is not as feasible as changing phones, so naturally it hasn't gained as much traction as one would expect from an Apple product. Starting from today, however, this may change as Pioneer introduced a firmware upgrade to its existing NEX in-dash head-unit range which includes Apple CarPlay support. This firmware upgrade provides the full Apple CarPlay experience, including Siri, Maps, Calendar and Photo support.
“CarPlay enriches the iPhone experience in the vehicle by providing a safer way to access the iPhone features they want to use most while driving,” said Ted Cardenas, vice president of marketing for the Car Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics.
Alongside the firmware upgrade, Pioneer has also released a $600 Apple CarPlay head-unit they call "AppRadio 4." Aside from the head unit's 6.2-inch touch screen it has some fairly interesting software features:
- Apple CarPlay™ (compatible with iPhone 5 or later)
- AppRadio® Mode Functionality for iPhone® and Android™ Phones
- MirrorLink™ Compatible
- Siri® Eyes Free Compatible
Per the last point, "Siri Eyes Free" allows the user to speak to Siri and schedule a song or meeting without ever having to press a button.
“With Pioneer’s implementation, CarPlay can now be integrated into millions of vehicles already on the road." - Ted Cardenas
Luckily, the head unit doesn't limit the Apple CarPlay functionality to just iPhone users: based on the details, it offers voice recognition support for some Android phones too. The headunits that support this range from $1400 through to the $600 device mentioned above. In total, there are 6 headunits which support the firmware upgrade.
The Apple CarPlay firmware is available at no extra charge and can be downloaded here. The upgrade is fairly simple: a user just needs to throw the firmware on a USB stick and plug it into the device's USB port.
See the video below demonstrating Apple CarPlay: