CarPlay and Android Auto can only really be described as what you’d call a “slow burn.” They both debuted quite a few years ago, but getting access to them via first-party infotainment systems didn’t happen with the pace early adopters might be accustomed to.
Luckily, a variety of third-party aftermarket in-car audio and infotainment decks offer an option for those who don’t want to buy a new car or wait for their automaker of choice to catch up with the times.
Pioneer’s new AVH-Z series, which the company officially revealed in May this year and started retailing just recently, offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in a single package, which is very convenient if you happen to spend time on both platforms. It also offers a CD/DVD slot, accessible via the sliding front faceplate, and either a 7 or 6-inch resistive touchscreen with 800×480 screen resolution. Physical buttons are included below the display or on the sides (depending on which model you go for), as is Bluetooth for hands-free and stereo streaming.
The whole thing comes in a double/sinle-DIN package that will work with a wide range of vehicles, with or without trim kits depending on your car. It also can plug into factory steering wheel controls, as well as first-party and aftermarket backup cameras. The AVH-2330NEX also ships with its own microphone, which is great because, in my experience, it offered far better voice recognition for things like Google Assistant and Siri, as well as for calls, when compared with factory-installed microphones shipping on vehicles.
Starting at R3 999, the AVH-Z series which is the same minus the inclusion of HD radio support, a second camera input and remote control is far cheaper than either buying a new car, or even in many cases paying for the infotainment upgrade package that will get you access to CarPlay and Android Auto in stock vehicles. It’s also a big boost for even factory sound systems.
But the real benefit here is access to your mobile OS of choice, right in your dash, front and center where you want it when driving. Plus, thanks to a standard USB adapter, you can switch between both using various cables, including micro-USB, USB-C and Lightning depending on your device’s requirements.