Sure, we don’t have the Apple Watch here in Singapore yet. But if it’s any consolation, Pioneer has finally brought Apple’s in-car system CarPlay to this part of the world.
The Pioneer AVH-X8750BT is the first in-car system from the Japanese company that preloads CarPlay into its system. The 2-DIN unit features dual USB slots and an SD card slot to round up the connectivity options. And, Bluetooth connectivity if you’re the type that dreads a wired connection between your smartphone and in-car entertainment unit.
The 7in WVGA touchscreen is a nice, well, touch, given how the dashboard displays a simple user interface akin to Apple’s iOS. Which also means there’s no steep learning curve since it’s almost as if you’re tapping on a larger iPhone screen.
Or, there’s Siri. Don’t worry, it has gotten smarter and truly understands you. Well, as long as you ensure that its language setting is pointed at English (Singapore). From the demo we’ve seen, the Pioneer AVH-X8750BT’s microphone is quick to pick up the slightest sound in the enclosed car space. A snigger at how Siri pronounces Ang Mo Kio is totally justifiable, by the way.
CarPlay essentially turns the Pioneer system into a giant iPhone, and whatever you can do on the iPhone can be done through CarPlay. Native Apple apps such as Phone, Music, Messages and Maps are display on the CarPlay interface once you plug an iPhone into the system.
Likewise, any apps that support CarPlay will also be loaded into the interface. The list of apps, however, is still quite limited, but at the very least, you get music apps such as Rdio and Spotify thrown into the mix here.
Outside of what the AVH-X8750BT can do with CarPlay, the unit has some interesting features that’ll enhance the audio delivery within the car. The system utilises a feature called Auto Time Alignment, which measures the distance between the rear speaker to the front and synchronises the audio delivery to create a stereo effect for the driver and front passenger.
The system also comes with an intelligent MIXTRAX system that analyses and recommends music based on what you’ve been playing.
Should I throw out my Pioneer AVH-X8650BT?
Here's the good news? That particular unit gets CarPlay too. However, a little firmware updating work is required.
For one, you’ll need to download the firmware update from Pioneer’s website, load it into a USB thumbdrive and stick it into the unit. From here on, the AVH-X8650BT that was launched last year will be given a new lease of life as a CarPlay-enabled device.
Similarly, future updates for CarPlay will have to be manually loaded into the Pioneer systems as they do not support over-the-air update.
So if you’ve got the earlier AVH-X8650BT, get to it and upgrade the firmware. Else, there’s the option to purchase the newly launched AVH-X8750BT, which costs S$1099. Not a small price to pay, but considering how you can turn your car smarter without a major overhaul, it’s a good trade-off.