Photo shows the Pandora App screen in the Toyota Yaris and Mazda CX-3
Photo shows the Pandora App screen in the Toyota Yaris and Mazda CX-3

The car gadget about to become redundant

THE drivers of Australia's two biggest car brands - Toyota and Mazda - have a button in their car that's about to become obsolete.

The axing of the Pandora music streaming service in Australia from the end of this month will affect more than 1 million drivers with the app embedded in their car's audio system.

Mazda introduced Pandora in 2014 and has gradually rolled it out to its entire passenger car range since.

"Mazda, like many, was disappointed to hear of the unexpected withdrawal of Pandora from the Australian market. Given its sudden closure, in time the Pandora function is expected to be removed from the MZD Connect menu (on future models),” said Mazda spokesman Tony Mee.

Meanwhile Toyota introduced Pandora to selected models in 2015 and currently has it available across its entire model range (see table below).

Photo shows the Pandora App screen in the Toyota Yaris and Mazda CX-3

It means the "Pandora” icon on the touchscreen in the Toyota and the toggle screen in the Mazda will still attempt to link to the music streaming service - if the icon is pressed - but it will get dead air after July 31.

In the case of Ford, the Pandora icon appears in the latest version of its "SYNC3” touchscreen. However the company says if owners delete the app on their phone it won't appear on the touchscreen.

This is true of any car equipped with Apple Car Play or Android Auto that also linked to Pandora.

Holden was one of the first to introduce Pandora, in 2013, on the Barina and started working its way across the range as new models arrived, including Trax, Cruze, Malibu, Commodore, the previous model Astra, the Cascada convertible and pre facelift versions of the Colorado.

Photo shows the Pandora App screen in the Toyota Yaris and Mazda CX-3

However, Holden has since switched to Apple Car Play and Android Auto and dropped Pandora from its touchscreens.

Holden says the only car in currently in its showrooms with the Pandora app embedded into the touchscreen is the locally made Commodore, which is due to go out of production in October.

Pandora was a US-based app that enabled motorists to choose their own music 'channels' -- from a selection of millions of songs - that tailored music to their tastes.

When not in Wi-Fi range it uses mobile data to stream music, which is believed to be one of the inhibiting factors in Australia - because no telcos offer affordable unlimited data plans as they do in the US.

Without enough subscribers the service proved unprofitable in Australia. The last Pandora transmissions end on July 31.

Pandora claimed to have more than 1.2 million users in Australia (compared with 80 million worldwide) but its growth didn't match Spotify which dominates the Australian streaming market.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling