24
Aug
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We've been fascinated with the Parrot ASTEROID ever since we first saw it at CES, but as the company has missed its Q2 deadline and let out nary a peep about the Android-powered car unit in the last seven months, we were starting to get concerned about our chances of seeing it hit the market.

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Fortunately, Parrot quenched our thirst for further information this morning - the AR.Drone manufacturer published an official press release, and the ASTEROID's availability is a mystery no more. The car unit will be available this October for $349, and will pack a 3.2" TFT color (non-touch) screen, 4 USB ports, a jack cable, RCA, and of course a customized version of Android. It'll also feature geo-localization, driving assistance (including speed control warnings and weather forecasts), contact management, a radio player, and, best of all, the ability to install third-party applications.

You'll need a GPS dongle and a 3G key (whatever that is) to hook the ASTEROID up to Internet-connected services, but while the former peripheral is included in the box, you'll have to obtain the "3G key" yourself. At $349 (plus the as-of-yet-unknown price of the "3G key"), I'd honestly rather stick with my EVO 3D for driving assistance, navigation, and the like. Still, it's nice to see Android making its way to all sorts of new devices.

Full press release below.

Parrot ASTEROID
The car is now connected to the Internet
Parrot - one of the leaders in wireless peripherals for mobile phones – reveals Parrot ASTEROID, a new generation of car receiver combining advanced hands-free telephony with, for the first time, access to web services. With ASTEROID, Parrot is steering the future of Internet in the car and offers a solution adapted to aftermarket and OEM.
 
Easy access to new services
Parrot ASTEROID is the first car receiver working on
the Android™ operating system. Once connected to a
GPS dongle (provided with the product) and a 3G key (not provided), it enables access to innovative web services.
 
In the US, 6 applications will be available in October 2011:
·         Geo-localization
o   Maps is a cartography service which identifies and locates points of interest close to the
vehicle. Using the zoom function enables the user to dial, hands free, the indicated phone numbers of selected business, access their information or plan routes.
o   Roadtrip is an itinerary service to touristic points of interest which vocally provides historical
and meteorological information linked to the selected venue. Pictures are also displayed on       the screen of the ASTEROID.
·         Driving assistance
o   Wikango* is a connected speed camera warning app system especially adapted to the ASTEROID screen that provides information about speed controls in real time. The spots are declared and shared between Wikango users.
o    Weather is offering weather forecast information during the entire road trip.
·         Contact management
o   TextFriendly* provides drivers the possibility to read and compose emails or text messages
by the voice, without any manipulation of the mobile phone.
·         Music
o   TuneIn provides access to music, sports, news or current events from anywhere in the world
with more than 50,000 stations to choose from.
Parrot ASTEROID is an open platform so is able to add applications.
 
A multi-source and hands-free music listening
·         Multi-compatibility
Parrot ASTEROID
enables the user to listen to music from various sources: USB key, iPhone® /
iPod®, MP3 player, SD card and now, online radio stations (thanks to 3G).
Music files can also be sent to the car receiver from a mobile phone and via Bluetooth® stereo A2DP.
ASTEROID further offers the functionality of a traditional car receiver with a FM/AM tuner and
RDS text+ service.
·         Music search by voice                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
A dedicated button on the Parrot ASTEROID activates voice recognition to search
for the name of an artist or an album without using the wheel button of the car
receiver. The ASTEROID will automatically search for your request in the
connected peripherals.
 
The excellence of hands-free telephony
Compatible with all brands of Bluetooth® mobile phones, the Parrot ASTEROID offers advanced
functionality of hands-free telephony. Paired with a mobile phone, it synchronizes and automatically
updates its phonebook. Access to the phonebook can be achieved hands-free thanks to training-free voice
recognition. The driver only has to say the name of a contact from their phonebook, and dialing will start
automatically with the conversation conducted on the audio system of the car.
 
A sleek and elegant design
Deep black with backlight buttons, the Parrot ASTEROID integrates itself perfectly in all car interiors.
·         Detachable - the left part is equipped with a magnetic guiding system for an easy and fast insertion of the faceplate. Discreet buttons give access to the main functionality of hands-free telephony or music system, and a rotary button allows for navigation in the different menus.
·         The right part is a 3.2” TFT color screen which displays the name and picture of the phonebook contacts, album covers, the selection of available applications and services, or Maps and other web applications.
 
With a 1 DIN standard format, Parrot ASTEROID is adapted for the majority of dashboards and is easy
to install. Its multiple connections - 4 USB ports, jack cable and RCA - positioned on the back of the car
receiver facilitate the integration of the product.
 
Solutions adapted to each market
ASTEROID
is addressing the market of automotive accessories. Parrot also proposes the FC6100
module which enables car manufacturers and equipment manufacturers to integrate it as an original
equipment in any car and will offer hands free systems, multi-connectivities, access to services and web
application capabilities from the Parrot ASTEROID.
 
Android for the car
With ASTEROID, Parrot has developed the first car receiver working on Android operating system and
offering a multiplatform compatibility. Android corresponds perfectly to the positioning of Parrot products.
Further, in simplifying the development of applications, Android succeeds in attracting a large number of
developers worldwide. This extremely active community already create thousands of applications; some of
them could be adapted and loaded onto the Parrot ASTEROID.
 
Price and availability
Parrot ASTEROID
will be available in October 2011 at the recommended retail price of US$ 349 RRP.
Technical Specifications: http://www.parrot.com/asteroid
  
Even though you have a hands-free solution: always be careful on the road!
Driving requires all of your attention. Calling while you are driving may induce careless behavior. A Bluetooth hands-free solution contributes to
reducing risks but does not avoid them completely. Parrot reminds you that it is important to behave responsibly while driving:
·          Do not hold your mobile phone while calling in the car
·          Warn the person you are talking to that you are driving and should keep the conversation short
·          Do not become involved in a complicated or emotional conversation
·          If the conversation prevents you from driving cautiously, please, hang up
·          If possible, park your car in a safe place (not on the hard shoulder or at a red light)
·          Keep your hands on the wheel and use the voice commands
·          Never text (SMS) while driving except if you can do it vocally via a specific service
 
About PARROT
Parrot, a global leader in wireless devices for mobile phones, stands on the cutting edge of innovation. The company was founded in 1994 by Henri Seydoux as part of his determination to drive the inevitable breakthrough of mobile phones into everyday life by creating high-quality, user-friendly wireless devices for easy living. Parrot has developed the most extensive range of hands-free systems on the market for cars, motorbikes and scooters, including wireless multimedia products geared towards audiovisual applications. In 2008, Parrot launched a new prestige line of high-end products bearing the hallmark of renowned artists and in 2010, the AR.Drone, the first quadricopter piloted via WiFi and using augmented reality.
Parrot, headquartered in Paris, currently employs 550 people worldwide and generates 85% of its sales overseas. Parrot is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris since 2006.
(FR0004038263 – PARRO)
More information: www.parrot.com / www.ardrone.com / www.parrotoem.com
 
®The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Parrot S.A. is under license. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • http://ericcamil.com Eric

    That key stuff is aggravating. I bought a stereo setup for my car and the guy sold me on the USB ports..He couldn't sell me on the Bluetooth "key" I could buy, mostly because they didn't have any.

  • Jaime

    Cant you just tether?

    • http://ericcamil.com Eric

      Probably Jaime, but for $349 that's not a solution. If it was $150 it might be, but the initial price is to high.

      • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

        Have you looked at the price of aftermarket car stereo head units lately? $350 is about the going price for a mid-range unit.

  • Elvis

    Looks pretty awesome, i've been waiting for some Android in my car :)

  • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

    I'll definitely keep an eye on this. Any idea which version of Android it uses as its base? I'd love to use one of the USB ports to connect a high-capacity external hard drive with FLAC music files and play them natively through the head unit. Also, with the 3G key: Google Music/Pandora/Spotify, anyone?

    I'd prefer a double-DIN format though. It'd allow for a larger screen (motorized flip-down would be another bonus, and at that size you could justify touchscreens), and the factory size of many newer vehicles is double DIN anyhow.

  • Jake

    Imagine running poweramp to this that would be perfect

  • HamDog

    We already have Android on our phone. And our phone is with us in the car. So do we really need another expensive Android car unit?

    I interfaced my Android phone with my factory car stereo with an Alpine Bluetooth interface unit. I love it and it costs less than $50. I made a YouTube video on it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjfrxJrtgj4

  • Alex R

    I got mine on tuesday this week. Installed in the car and works great. As of now it's only usable as a music player. The GPS and Internett features are totaly useless.
    Google maps is so stripped down and can't be used for anything. The internett radio streaming app works fine. Icoyote(traffic cam app) is to expensive.
    On the plus side, it looks great, has a great UI and support for a broad range of USB dongles.

    3G key is just any 3g usb modem. I use an huawei E173 i had lying around.
    These guys here -> http://asteroid-blog.blogspot.com/ Have allready started hacking the unit :)

  • Alex R

    Heres the specs:

    Android 1.5
    ASIC Parrot 6 468 MHz processor
    256 Mb RAM
    40 Mo free shared space for application data, vocal recognition files and temporary data
    3.2’ 400x240 (pixels) screen (warning: depth of 15 bits)

    --

    It doesn't support Flac as of now. The unit is allready rooted and small apps are allready launched.

    Btw, the bluetooth functionality on this unit is supperior to any car stereo i have tried before. Synced 2 andriod phones and 1 iphone to the unit at the same time. No problems.

    It also connects to the internet via the phone, so the "3g key" is not a must.

  • Anthony

    Google Maps will be better going forward and likely better when released in North America.

    I don't notice any SQ differences between high bit rate MP3/WMA and FLAC, its unneeded another geek's solution to a problem that didn't exist.

    What I hope is standard market access is allowed on this, which means apps like Sirius and Shazam mean music without needing storage for files and never asking what song was that...

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

      "I don't notice any SQ differences between high bit rate MP3/WMA and FLAC, its unneeded another geek's solution to a problem that didn't exist."

      So just because one or both of the following is true:
      a) your audio equipment is not high quality enough to recreate the sounds otherwise lost by MP3/WMA conversion, or
      b) your ears are incapable of hearing the differences

      ...you completely toss a technology like FLAC out the window as a "geek's solution to a problem that didn't exist"?

  • BDK

    Riddled with bugs and UI problems. Crashes, reboots and freezes. Useless apps, built off of the first version of Android framework, little support and developers not on board to create apps.

    Go through their forums and see for yourself. I'm selling mine before I can't sell it for $100.