Pioneer’s app-enabled receivers play nice with iOS content sources

Almost every car stereo available today has some way to connect to your Apple (s aapl) devices, but Pioneer is looking at even tighter integration with Apple’s iOS devices through custom-built apps, including one that works with popular online music service Pandora. So when the factory issued radio in my car needed replacing I decided to have Pioneer’s DEH-6300UB receivers installed. Here’s how it turned out.

Take control of iOS on the road

The Multi Control on the DEH-6300UB is reminiscent of click-wheel iPod controls, and offers the ability to navigate through songs, albums, artists, genre and even playlists, right from your dash. Playback, however is not limited to just the iPod app; you can play the audio from any app you own. One really nice feature: during the playback of a song, if you decide you want to hear more by the same artist, from the same album, or within the same genre, you just press and hold the Multi Control button to cycle through those options. It’s like a more specific Genius function at your fingertips.

Pandora on wheels

Rather than adding cellular and Wi-Fi capabilities to your car stereo, Pioneer has been integrating features into its receivers that take advantage of the connection options already on your iOS device. In particular, the pioneer-developed¬†PandoraLink App really illustrates this point. Once connected via USB, you can navigate through your custom stations, skip and bookmark songs. You can even rate a song “Thumbs-Up” or “Thumbs-Down” using the Multi Control. Audio stream quality and ability to use the service will depend on your iOS device’s connection strength, of course.

iTunes tagging from the FM tuner

Just as you can bookmark a song you’re listening to on Pandora, you can can also “Tag” the tracks on any FM station that supports the Radio Data System (RDS). Tagged tracks will be added to a custom “Tagged” playlist on your device that will carry over to iTunes when your device is synced next. The DEH-6300UB will even collect and store your Tags until the next time your iOS device is connected if you tag tracks while your device isn’t connected to the system. While I do not listen to FM stations too much anymore, it is nice to know that when I do, I can take note of a new song I like without having to use Shazam or SoundHound while driving.

Pioneer is a smart company that’s taking advantage of what users already have in terms of usable entertainment sources with their iOS devices. The AppRadio is another great example, and one that takes iOS integration even further. If you’re looking for an after-market way to get your car iPhone connected, the DEH-6300UB is a good option, and Pioneer in general has a solid line of offerings.