As much as the Western world is likely to adopt new infotainment systems like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, their markets are quite small compared to the rest of the world. With around seven billion smartphones across the globe, there’s huge markets for Apple and Google hardware to be augmented in vehicles too, which is why it makes total sense that Pioneer has just launched its first CarPlay unit in India, one of the world’s biggest smartphone markets.
The unit, called the AVIC – F970BT comes with all of the usual CarPlay features, like an interactive touch screen – as well as Siri controlled voice commands too – and a host of applications to make use of. There’s the standard Apple Maps navigation, and those designed more with entertainment in mind, like Beats Music, Spotify, Rdio and a podcasts app for listening to something a little less musical.
Users can also offload their texting and phone calling to the device, meaning their eyes stay away from their handset and at worst, flick to the larger and more easy to read display in the middle of the dash.
There are a few stipulations with the new hardware however. Users will need a relatively current iPhone in order to be able to connect to the head unit – without which, function is quite limited. They’ll need at least an iPhone 5, though anything more modern like a 5s, or 6 will work absolutely fine; as long as they’re running iOS 7.1 or newer. Pricing is reasonably high, coming in at just shy of 40,000 Indian rubles, which works out to around £500.
Considering all of the problems in India over car safety and comments from auto-makers that a few hundred pounds more for each vehicle to allow them to include air bags and ABS would be unreasonable, it will be interesting to see how many units Pioneer is actually able to sell in the country. It could either back up, or really discredit the automotive industry’s claims.
The news of Pioneer’s new Carplay unit going on sale is well timed too, as Apple recently announced that it had brokered a deal with the government and Foxconn to build two new fabrication plants in the country. This will enable not only the manufacturing of Apple hardware in India, but also the sale of handsets, as previously Apple wasn’t allowed to open its own stores in India due to the fact that all of its manufacturing facilities were located in other Eastern nations.