If you're a new car owner like me and looking to upgrade your in-car entertainment system, consider Pioneer's AVH-Z5050BT.
Announced earlier this year, the AVH-Z5050BT offers support for both Android Auto and Apple Carplay. This is particularly useful for me since reviewing phones for CNET means I have to switch regularly between operating systems.
Plug in an iPhone ($500 at Cricket Wireless), and CarPlay switches on. Plug in an Android phone that supports Auto, and it'll load up. If Auto hasn't yet launched where you live, you'll have to sideload the app to get it on your phone. But everything will work once it's plugged in.
You get access to mapping and navigation on both systems, though Android Auto's a little more comprehensive as it allows you to reply to messages from Facebook using your voice. That's unfortunately not available in CarPlay. Neither is Google Maps, which is a pain since navigating with Google Maps is a lot easier here in Singapore.
If you don't want to use either option, there's also Pioneer's own AppRadio Live, which has most of the basic features and also plays YouTube videos on the 7-inch resistive display. That's a terrible idea if you're driving, though. It's a massive distraction and it'll rack up the data consumption on your mobile plan.
You can also watch full-HD videos through a DVD or USB drive or listen to high-resolution flac tracks, but I didn't personally find these features useful. The 800x480-pixel WVGA display doesn't really suit full-HD videos.
Features aside, the AVH-Z5050BT isn't perfect. The system had trouble triggering with virtual assistants by voice alone, though this was easily remedied by hitting the microphone button on the steering wheel or the receiver. Just shouting "Hey Siri" or "OK Google", though, didn't usually work out.
Still, if you're looking for a system that lets you switch between iOS and Android car apps any time you want, the AVH-Z5050BT is worth the pricey S$999 (around $730) price tag.
Editors' note: The Z-Series receiver may be known by a different branding (Nex) in the US, and may come with different features.
- Size: 2 DIN
- Display: 7-inch WXGA (800 x 480)
- Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Playback: DVD/CD/USB