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Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 2:50pm
Parrot outs Asteroid head unit with Android, iOS, web links
Parrot, which started off with cellphone peripherals, including Bluetooth headsets, has now made its Asteroid in-car head unit official. First seen at CES early this year, the head unit is the only one in the industry to run on Android. It sports a 3.2-inch screen and ships with a GPS dongle, while a mobile broadband USB port will let users connect their own for Internet connection.

While outright web browsing won't be possible with the unit, Parrot will launch six apps for the head unit in October in the US. Maps will allow users to dial the phone numbers of nearby points of interest locator, while Roadtrip will provide historical and meteorological information for selected tourist attractions. It will also display photos of said venue.

Wikango is a speed camera app system that will warn of speed traps in real time. Its database draws from other Wikango users. The Weather app will display weather information along a user's route. TextFriendly will allow users to have e-mail or text message read to them, and compose either as well using just their voice. Wikango and TextFriendly require a paid subscription, however.

Finally, the TuneIn app will give drivers access to music, sports, news or current events from over 50,000 web stations. Other apps are expected to come to the open platform system.

The head unit sports a USB port and an SD card slot for playing digital music off these devices. A CD drive is absent, however. In spite of the Google platform, it's iPod and iPhone ready both over USB and wirelessly over a stereo Bluetooth link. An RDS-enabled AM/FM tuner is integrated as well. Users can search for artist or album by voice after pressing a dedicated button.

Voice dialing is possible with paired Bluetooth phones. Connections include four USB ports (one needed for 3G), an auxiliary 3.5mm input, and RCA inputs.

Parrot also offers its FC6100 module for car makers and third parties that allow the same functions of the Asteroid to be integrated into factory audio systems that have hands-free systems.

The head unit ships in October for $350.