- NOTE - This REQUIRES your mobile device to be rooted. If your mobile device is not rooted and you are not willing / comfortable to root your mobile device, then this will NOT work, and you will need to get a mobile device that AppRadio officially supports, and you will be limited to only using the apps that AppRadio officially supports.
- Difficulty Level:
Pioneer AppRadio is a special mode on some Pioneer head units that allows the connection of mobile devices, so that you can use the Pioneer head unit to control software running on the mobile device, whether it’s media software, navigation software or internet streaming. On some devices, it also allows full streaming of the mobile device’s screen, meaning the Pioneer head unit displays what is on the mobile devices screen, and touches on the head unit are replicated on the mobile device.
The way that this works is that it uses an HDMI cable to show video from the mobile device and then sends commands to the mobile device using bluetooth.
Apps that support Pioneer AppRadio are very limited though, and though the AppRadio idea is a good idea, it’s implementation has not been very good. Also, AppRadio mode doesn't support many mobile devices.
This guide uses a third party version of AppRadio, called AppRadio Unchained, to unlock the true potential of AppRadio, meaning you can get full screen mirroring of pretty much any Android mobile device, and also that the GPS antenna that comes with the head unit can be used to provide location information for almost any GPS aware app (and not just the few officially supported ones)
This guide assume you are using an Android stick that has Micro USB for Power as well as an HDMI connector on it, and a full sized USB port to allow plugging in a USB mouse / keyboard (or dongle for wireless mouse / keyboard). It’s recommended you get one that has a MicroSD slot to make it easier to transfer files to the Android stick
Before connecting the Android stick to your head unit
- AppRadio device (this guide was written using a Pioneer SPH-DA110)
- Android stick (sometimes referred to Android TV dongle) - I used a Justop K10A when writing this guide
- For some AppRadio devices, you will need the Pioneer CD-AH200 MHL/HDMI Android Phone connectivity set, whereas some AppRadio devices (such as the SPH-DA110) will come with most of the cables included in the kit. Generic equivalents of the cables in this kit may work (and will be cheaper).
- AppRadio Unchained app installed on the Android mobile device (referred to here as ARU)
- ARUnchained GPS Injector (depending on the head unit and the apps you intend to use) referred to here as ARU GPS. Check if your head unit has a built in / purchasable GPS antenna before going ahead, as ARU GPS is not free.
- HDMI Coupler/Gender Changer such as this one
- USB / wireless mouse / keyboard for initial configuration of the Android stick
- (Optional, but preferred) Access to the internet in the car. I use a Vodafone R205 3G Mobile Wi-Fi Wireless Modem Router
Before you connect your Android stick up to your head unit, you should connect your Android stick to your TV / PC Monitor via HDMI and fully configure it, and perform the following, as detailed below -
Rooting your Mobile Device
- Root your mobile device (if not already rooted)
- Install AppRadio Unchained
- (If necessary) Install ARU GPS injector
- For Samsung devices with Android 4.4.x, set SELinux to permissive mode
- Confirm that the display on the Android stick is set to never turn off (should be under Lockscreen setting)
Due to the way that ARU and ARU GPS work, they require root access to your Android mobile device to work. If your device is already rooted, then skip ahead.
Rooting an Android device is usually a simple process, and most of the Android sticks out there will come pre-rooted. I’m therefore not going to go into detail about rooting Android sticks here. There are many well written guides and utilities for rooting your Android device, and the best place to find the information you need is at the XDA-Developers forums.
Important notes about rooting -
After rooting your device, go into Developer options and ensure that Mock Locations is enabled
- Rooting devices first requires unlocking the bootloader of the device, and on many devices (for security reasons), this will wipe your device entirely, including any data files you have saved to it, so ALWAYS make a full backup first.
- Once again - rooting your mobile device and unlocking your bootloader does carry some risk, and I will not be held responsible for any bricked / boot looped devices.
- At times, during the instructions below, you will be prompted to Grant / Deny super user access to certain apps. Please ensure that for all the apps listed in this guide, you GRANT super user access
Installing AppRadio Unchained and ARUnchained GPS Injector
AppRadio Unchained (ARU) -
ARU is the main program that is required to make everything work together. It enables the streaming of your device’s display to the head unit and also allows controlling your device (over Bluetooth) using the head unit.
AppRadio Unchained needs to be installed using ‘sideloading’, whereby you download the APK file for an app, and then install it manually.
ARUnchained GPS Injector -
- Enable ‘Unknown Sources’ under Security settings on your mobile device (may be in a different location on your device)
- Use your mobile device to browse to and download ARU from the link on the XDA-Developers forums, or download on your computer and then copy to your device. NOTE - there is a special version of ARU for HDMI sticks (i.e. Android sticks).
- Find the downloaded file on your device, and launch it to install. Select all installation defaults
- When done, DON'T open ARU
Many of the Pioneer head units that support AppRadio have a built in GPS antenna (or have one as an option). Having this GPS antenna means that your connected mobile device can use the GPS location information from the head unit's antenna for any GPS apps that are officially supported by AppRadio (the apps have the Pioneer AppRadio SDK built in). However, there are very few (decent) apps that are officially supported.
Using ARU GPS enables most GPS aware apps to receive GPS location information from the head unit’s GPS antenna. This in effect means you could use GPS apps on your mobile device without your mobile device having to be on your dashboard to get GPS signal.
Set SELinux to permissive mode (for Samsung devices with Android 4.4.x or higher)
- Install ARUnchained GPS Injector (ARU GPS) from the Google Play Store. Note it is a paid for app, and costs about £4.35. (I would recommend you get everything ready, including steps below, and THEN purchase ARU GPS app. and if it does not work, you have (I think) 2 hours to get a refund on the play store for the app - remember that before you ask for a refund, you need to perform the reverse of the steps below to change the system app to a user app, or else the refund will fail as it will try to uninstall ARU GPS first, and you can't uninstall system apps).
- Install an app called /system/app mover
- Open the /system/app mover app
- Tick the box and tap Ok
- Find ARUnchained GPS Injector in the apps list, and tap it
- Confirm you want to convert it to system app, and reboot when prompted
Certain ARU and ARU GPS functions require SELinux to be set to permissive mode. You can do this as below -
Connecting your Android Stick to your head unit
- On the Android stick, launch Google Play Store
- Search for and install SELinux Mode Changer
- Launch SELinux Mode Changer
- If Enforcing is greyed out, it means that SELinux is set to Enforcing mode. Click the Permissive buttoin
- Close SELinux Mode Changer
The cables you will need to connect your Android stick to your head unit will depend on the head unit and Android stick you are using, but most of the Pioneer AppRadio head units and Android sticks will have the same connections / ports as in this guide.
When you first setup your Android stick in your car, you will need to pair it with the Pioneer head unit. Even though your Android stick may not yet be fully configured with your AppRadio head unit, you can still connect the HDMI cable, and see the phone mirrored on the head unit. You just need a kayboard / mouse to control the pointer on the Android Stick while you connect it to Bluetooth on the head unit. Once properly connected with the AppRadio Unchained app, you no longer need the keyboard / mouse.
If you have any issues, I will TRY and help, but I can’t promise anything. Your best bet for assistance is to goto the XDA Developers forum for ARU.
- Turn your ignition to the accessory position, so Pioneer head unit gets power
- On the head unit, ensure that that App Connection Settings is set to Others. How and where to do this may depend on your unit, but on the SPH-DA110, it's done as follows -
- If anything is connected to head unit with HDMI, disconnect it
- On the head unit, tap the phone icon, and then tap the gear icon on the bottom right
- Tap Connection when the Bluetooth connection menu appears.
- Tap the trash can next to any devices listed there and tap Yes to delete when prompted
- Exit out of the Bluetooth settings and phone menus, back to the main screen
- On head unit, scroll to right and tap Off (to change the input to none)
- Click Home button and then tap Settings
- Locate App Connection Settings and tap it to confirm it is set to Others, or tap it again to change it to Others
- Exit Settings and go back to left most screen on head unit (with Radio and Apps icons on it)
- Connect your Micro USB charger cable to the USB cable from the head unit, and connect the other end to the Android stick 5v power input (NOT the OTG port if it has one)
- Connect your keyboard / mouse to the USB port on the Android stick
- Connect the Android stick to the HDMI cable from the head unit (this is where you may need the HDMI gender changer plug). While the Android stick boots up, on the head unit, goto the home page, and you should see that the Apps icon is now lit up. Tap this (you may receive a warning that you are not properly connected, simply click Ignore). You should now see the display from the Android stick on the head unit. You will need to use the keyboard / mouse to control the Android stick for now though. (FYI - If you touch the head unit at this time, you will see an icon show up that shows a pointing hand with a red cross - this means that you are not properly connected with Bluetooth, and so the head unit cannot control the Android device. Once we properly connect the AppRadio with Bluetooth, this will go away).
- Wait for the Android stick to boot up. Once booted up, goto Settings -> Bluetooth (location depends on the Android version you are using)
- Enable Bluetooth, and search for and pair with the Pioneer AppRadio head unit
- Once the Android stick and the head unit are paired, launch ARU
- Accept any prompts, and ensure that you grant super user access to ARU when prompted (if you are not prompted for super user access, check you have SuperSU or SuperUser apps installed and try again, or check within SuperSU or SuperUser apps if you previously granted super user access to ARU)
- The icon for AppRadio in the notification tray should show as Ready to connect. If it does not, but you ARE paired, then try to disable Bluetooth on the Android stick, wait for acoupel of seconds, and enable Bluetooth on the Android stick again - it should auto connect to the paired AppRadio device, and AppRadio should change to Ready to connect)
- Wait a little bit more for the AppRadio icon to change colour and show as Connected (this can take a few seconds, so just wait). If it refuses to connect, then check -
- SELinux is set to Permissive mode (if on a Samsung device with Android 4.4.x or later
- Android stick is rooted
- SuperUser / SuperSU apps are installed
- Android stick is paired and connected to head unit (look on head unit as well to confirm it is connected - location depends on head unit, but on the DA110, tap the phone icon on top right of home screen)
- Ensure the Android stick has the correct Date and time set as well as the correct time zone
- The first time you connect AppRadio, AppRadio will probably go through a calibration procedure. It will show some circles on the head unit screen. Tap the middle of these circles to calibrate the display.
- Once you are done with calibration, you should be able to control the Android stick with the head unit.
- That’s it - you're done
Below is a short video showing the Android stick I used with my Pioneer SPH-DA110, the first time I connected it. It's difficult to see text on the head unit screen with the Android stick, due to the way the stick is configured. Using a custom launcher could make the interface better for a 7 inch screen, or you could edit the config of the Android stick to make it look more like a phone (my Android phone, using the same launcher, looks MUCH better on the head unit than this Android stick does).
Sorry for the bad video quality and audio distortion (that's due to microphone on phone)