Apple CarPlay went live on Pioneer's NEX and AppRadio 4 installable systems late Wednesday night, making this new, smartphone-safe auto interface available for older cars before it's shown up in any new cars (except the Ferrari, which is too fancy-shmancy to count).
If you have or install one of these systems in your car, you'll be able to plug in your CarPlay-compatible iPhone (iPhone 5 or later) to make calls, send and receive text messages, and use compatible apps safely from the display and other controls.
Why this matters: One of the coolest new kinds of car tech, from the most popular technology company in the world, is available for your oldish beater of a car before basically anyone else gets it. And it's not just cool and new—it also promises to make using your smartphone in your car a lot safer than it is now, even with Siri Eyes Free.
The gear you need
We saw a late beta of CarPlay in Pioneer's AVIC-8000NEX infotainment system earlier this year. That flagship product has a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen and an MSRP of $1400, but it has NEX cousins with prices down to $700 MSRP. Currently installed systems simply need a free firmware upgrade, which you can download yourself and install via USB drive (or an authorized dealer can do it for you).
With AppRadio 4, Pioneer launches a new version of its touchscreen-based receiver, and the second product line with CarPlay compatibility. The AppRadio 4 has a 6.2-inch capacitive touchscreen and an MSRP of $600.
New cars with Apple CarPlay are due to ship any day now. Apple's roster of automaker partners includes Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, and many more. But for all those who don't plan to buy a new car, Pioneer offers a third-party solution. Rival Alpine should be coming out with its product eventually as well.