Car tech

Use Apple CarPlay, Android Auto with Pioneer AV receiver

One of the most enticing features is the Z5050BT's native support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (not available here now) out of the box.
One of the most enticing features is the Z5050BT's native support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (not available here now) out of the box. PHOTO: PIONEER

The Pioneer AVH-Z5050BT is an in-dash, double-DIN DVD multimedia audio/video (AV) receiver with a 7-inch, full high-definition touchscreen display.

Unlike many in-dash AV receivers, the Z5050BT's display is capable of displaying up to 16.7 million colours.

The displays of other AV receivers I have used often have a lag in response after I tap on them.

But the Z5050BT's touchscreen display is very responsive. All my taps and swipes were registered immediately, so scrolling the menu interface is fluid.

This makes the receiver really easy to use when customising the menu interface or browsing music or video lists.

The Z5050BT plays video files in various formats, including WMV, Xvid, H.264 and MPEG4, in 1,920-x-1,080-pixel resolution. It even supports Flac files with up to 48 kHz/24-bit high resolution, CD-quality audio playback. Just connect your smartphone or hard drive via USB cable or Bluetooth, and it will automatically detect your music or video content.

The colours in videos are vivid and punchy, and there is not much colour shift when you are viewing from an angle of around 45 degrees.

Perhaps one of the most enticing features of the Z5050BT is its native support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which is not currently available here) out of the box.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $999

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, USB


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Apple CarPlay lets drivers control their iPhone and its apps easily and safely while driving.

The CarPlay's interface looks like that of the iOS, with large icons taking up most of the display.

There are only a few native iOS apps that you can use in CarPlay. One of them is Messages, in which the voice assistant Siri can help you send, read and reply to messages. Another app you are most likely to use is Maps.

I was surprised by how well Siri was able to pick up my voice commands (with thick Singaporean accent), from hanyu pinyin names to street names like Toa Payoh. It struggled to do so with the other CarPlay systems I have tried.

Unfortunately, only two third-party apps - Deezer and Spotify - are supported by CarPlay.

While Android Auto is not supported in Singapore, you can still use it. Just search, download and install the Android Auto APK files onto your Android smartphone.

While this is not recommended, I found Android Auto to work just fine after I installed the APK files. It recognised my voice commands and was able to help me navigate to the right location.

You can also use Pioneer's own AppRadio Live app. Available in both Android and iOS platforms, it supports a more comprehensive suite of apps, including the social traffic app Waze. This app offers user-submitted traffic incidents, real-time traffic conditions, and other traffic information.

The downside of using AppRadio Live is that the smartphone's display is not turned off during use, unlike with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It can be distracting for the driver.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: If your new or second-hand car does not come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you just need to install the Pioneer AVH-Z5050BT.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Use Apple CarPlay, Android Auto with Pioneer AV receiver'. Print Edition | Subscribe