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Car Tech Spotlight: 2013 Scion FR-S iPod Direct Control

You can choose between controlling an iPod through the car’s head unit or the device itself.

By Douglas Newcomb Feb 1, 2013 7:00AM

Scion FR-S iPod Direct ControlThe iPod access menu in some cars leaves a lot to be desired. It can be enough to make you want to just use a car’s auxiliary jack to control music directly from an iPod, rather than through a convoluted and frustrating set of menus and buttons.

The Pioneer head unit that comes standard in the 2013 Scion FR-S is a prime example. It’s more like an aftermarket add-on than part of an integrated audio system. The car doesn’t even have steering-wheel audio controls, for example.

Most of the head unit’s controls and its monochromatic display are too small, and to access iPod menu items requires lots of button-pushing -- and eyes-off-the-road time. The iPod menu as well as other audio controls are a chore to access compared with other cars, especially on the fly. And in this road rocket, you really want to fly.

If you don’t want to deal with accessing your tunes on an iPod through the head unit or hassle with bringing along an extra aux-in cable -- and a USB cord to keep a device charged -- the Scion FR-S gives you another option. With most cars, once you plug in an iPod, you can no longer control it through the device itself, and an “accessory connected” message is displayed. But the Pioneer head unit in the FR-S allows you to control the device either through the iPod/USB menu on the head unit or by using the Direct Control feature on the head unit to access the iPod’s native menu, as shown in the video below.

While using the iPod itself can be distracting while driving, I found the iPod menu on the Pioneer head unit to be equally time-consuming. At least the FR-S gives you a choice between the two.

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