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Apple CarPlay by Pioneer : first test

In our increasingly connected world, the desire to be 'always on' has driven many advances in personal communication - but what about in the car?

For many drivers, the capabilities and functionality of a vehicle's infotainment system are as important as the drivetrain.

Earlier this year, Apple announced its next-generation automotive product, CarPlay. CarPlay takes the core functions of your Apple iPhone and integrates it with the car's media system.

While the first OEM offerings are yet to hit the market, electronics manufacturer Pioneer has recently unveiled its aftermarket solution in a trio of in-car multimedia system upgrades - the AVIC-F60DAB, AVIC-F960DAB and AVH-X8650BT devices.

Apple CarPlay by Pioneer_9

The Pioneer units offer excellent standalone capabilities, with DVD, SD, CD and DAB media playback possible, as well as integrated GPS navigation in the top-tier units.

Connecting an iPhone brings the real benefits, however.

The CarPlay interface uses the iPhone as the 'brains' and simply displays the familiar iOS interface within the double-din-sized touchscreen.

Apple CarPlay by Pioneer_0

At the core of the CarPlay interface is Apple's personal assistant, Siri.

All operations can be voice controlled, with Siri there to help at every juncture.

Text messages can be read and dictated. Navigation or music track instructions issued and even random questions answered - just as you do with your phone, only this time you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Apple CarPlay by Pioneer_6

CarPlay's entertainment functions can utilise internet streaming audio applications like Spotify or iTunes radio, as well as media stored on your own device.

Connection is simple and instant, with no complex or frustrating Bluetooth pairing. Just plug your phone in, and forget about it - you can even keep it in the glovebox or console, such is the integration with key telephony functions. Given your handset needs to be connected to the system too, it will always be charged and ready for when you next 'go mobile'.

Apple CarPlay by Pioneer_14

Pioneer's system is the first and only licensed platform in the world at this time, and can be fitted to any vehicle that supports a standard double-din-sized media device. A range of fascias are available to help maintain that 'OEM' look in the car.

Connectivity uses the car's CANbus central nervous system, so remote audio functions on the steering wheel and reverse camera imagery can be retained.

The Pioneer systems start from about $1,100 (plus fitting) and are available now from major car audio retailers.

Read more about the Pioneer system on their website.