Android-Auto-AH-1

Pioneer Head Units have been Hacked to run Third-Party ROMs

August 11, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Let’s be honest here, we knew this was coming. But hoped it was not coming. We can now install third-party ROMs onto our Pioneer after-market head units. Whether it is safe or not, is a topic for another day. Android users who have been around for a while, remember what it was like when everyone was flashing ROMs onto their smartphones and tablets. Heck, I was one of those that would flash a new ROM almost every week. Especially in the days before Ice Cream Sandwich. But flashing a ROM onto your cars’ infotainment system is a whole other story. With Android Auto being very limiting, and for good reason, it rubbed a lot of users the wrong way. As they are used to just rooting their phone and slapping a custom ROM onto their device. Well now you can do that with Android Auto.

So what’s changed? Well, Pioneer AVIC units have had their security removed. Thus allowing users to install modded version of Android Auto onto these head units. The AVIC Development Mod does one simple thing, it alters what the SD Card slot does. Most of these Pioneer head units come with a SD card slot, albeit hidden. This mod makes it possible for anything compatible to boot instead of the factory software. What does this mean for customers? Well you can add different themes, as well as alternate user interfaces. Additionally it also means that you can install Android Auto on AVIC head units that didn’t come with Android Auto installed. One step past that, it also means that you can have access to WiFi. As sometimes Pioneer will disable WiFi in some of these head units for some reason.

Now it’s up to the development community to get modding and see what we can do with Android Auto. While this could be pretty dangerous, it is also pretty exciting. It’s dangerous, because we’ve all flashed a ROM that has some bugs, and when driving down I-94 at 70MPH, that’s not the time to have deal with a bug when using Google Maps or Google Play Music. So if you do decide to use any type of ROMs on your Pioneer head unit, please be careful. We’d strongly urge most of you not to use any type of ROM on your head unit.