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If you own an Apple iPhone and a vehicle, your in-car experience is about to get the upgrade you’ve been waiting for. Apple’s CarPlay—the ultimate hands-free, iPhone-powered experience—is now available in Canada. Even better, you don’t have to buy a new car to get it! Pioneer’s NEX multimedia systems are your first chance to get Apple’s CarPlay in your own vehicle. You can give your vehicle the sound system you always wanted, while also gaining integrated Apple Maps, hands-free calling and messaging, your music, third party apps and Siri voice control with Pioneer NEX

What is CarPlay?

Previous generation car audio and entertainment systems sometimes offered “iPhone compatibility.” This could range from simply being able to play music from the iPhone via an input or Bluetooth connection to mirroring apps running on the iPhone on the car deck’s display with touch support. Some system also supported Siri hands-free control for voice calling.

CarPlay, which launched in 2014, is a standard that integrates all the functions you want to use your iPhone for while driving. It uses Siri voice control and with an in-dash entertainment system (like those Pioneer NEX decks), drivers can also control CarPlay functions through the touchscreen display.

As Apple describes it:

“CarPlay is a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. CarPlay takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them right on your car’s built-in display. You can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road.”

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Among the key features iPhone users will be able to take advantage of with CarPlay are:

  • Apple Maps navigation 
  • Voice calling and voicemail
  • Listening to and dictating text messages
  • Playing music
  • Third party iPhone apps

CarPlay also has built-in smarts that make these features even better. For example, Apple Maps isn’t just turn-by turn navigation —Apple says CarPlay has the ability to predict where you want to go based on addresses from sources like your calendars, contacts and text messages.

Why the Excitement Over Pioneer NEX Decks?

While CarPlay was a big announcement, for many of us it seemed a little out of reach. 

Apple is in partnerships with dozens of auto manufacturers—including BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen—to bring CarPlay integration to their new vehicles. However, cool as CarPlay is, not everyone is in the position to buy a new car to get it.

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Pioneer—a leader in premium car audio and in-dash entertainment systems—joined Apple’s CarPlay partnership from the get go and was the first to announce official CarPlay support within its product line. That was a huge deal for those of us who use iPhones but bought a car last year, or the year before; or who have no plans to buy a new car in the near future. With the installation of a Pioneer NEX in-dash entertainment system, we can get the CarPlay experience too. 

For more on what CarPlay integration means and how it works in the Pioneer NEX systems, here’s an overview video from Pioneer:

2015 is shaping up to be a big year for CarPlay. Vehicles with CarPlay multimedia systems are beginning to show up in car dealer showrooms. And the existing cars and trucks on the roads can upgrade to CarPlay support and premium sound with a Pioneer NEX deck for less than a monthly payment would be for many of those new cars.

And if you already own a supported Pioneer NEX sound system (including the AVH-4000NEX, AVIC-6000NEX and AVIC-8000NEX), a firmware upgrade is all you need to enjoy the advantages of CarPlay.

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Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

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