Wacky French tech company Parrot — the same folks who brought us the AR.Drone quadricopter — has today unveiled the world's first car stereo powered by Google's Android operating system, the Asteroid.
Available down under from "late October", the Parrot Asteroid is the first car receiver that connects to the Internet to access a range of applications specifically developed for the product. The single DIN deck displays these apps on a 3.2in colour screen, and also comes equipped with a GPS receiver.
The Parrot Asteroid requires a separate, 3G mobile broadband USB modem to access its Internet-powered services, though users can also tether a compatible smartphone to the head-unit to provide the required 3G data.
Standard Web apps that come bundled with the Asteroid include a maps service which locates points of interest close to your vehicle, an itinerary service to surrounding tourist points of interest, a speed camera warning system, a five-day weather forecast and the ability to access over 50,000 Internet radio stations. Parrot says the Asteroid is an open platform so third-party developers can use a software development kit (SDK) to create their own apps.
In addition to its standard Web services, the Parrot Asteroid also comes with a regular FM and AM radio, and offers music playing capabilities through an iPhone or iPod, a USB connection, an SD card, or any music players with a standard 3.5mm line-in connection.
Parrot's marketing group manager for automotive aftermarket, Frederic Albinet, said the company considered including a digital radio on the Asteroid, but cited the technology's "lack of standardised formats" as a hindrance. Digital radio broadcasts in Australia use the DAB+ format, while the incompatible DAB format is used across Europe and the UK.
Other features of the Parrot Asteroid include the ability to read and compose emails or text messages by voice, and the ability to search for music by voice. The Asteroid will connect to any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone to provide hands-free calling, and A2DP Bluetooth can also be used to stream music from a mobile phone to the unit.
The Parrot Asteroid will be available in "late October" for $399, excluding installation. The company said it is "still in discussions" with retailers to sell the Asteroid, but it is expected to be available through traditional car specialist outlets, and larger stores like JB Hi-Fi, Strathfield Car Radio and Autobarn.