I'm in the same boat. Been looking at the Pioneer stuff myself, particularly the AVIC models. I'm leaning toward the x940BT but the new 2013 models are just now hitting the market. Check here for the CES break down on some of Pioneers AVICs:
Pioneer reveals three new in-dash touchscreen multimedia receivers with AppRadio, DVD, SiriusXM and more
They seem to have an Appradio "mode" on the z150 and x950. I think Pioneer is quietly killing the Appradio headunit as they haven't announced a AR3, just the AR "mode"s on the new AVIC (not including the x850bt) As far as connecting I think they will connect/sync/interface over bluetooth or using an HDMI/USB cable. See here for the best info I could find on what cable to use:
Which Samsung MHL Cable for AR2 and GS3? LInks Provided
When you say $30 for the program, are you talking about the PC based program you can get through itunes? Haven't really looked at the JVC stuff but I'm looking into Alpine, they usually are on par with Pioneer.