Apple CarPlay puts iOS in smart cars

Apple has shown off its smart car platform, CarPlay, debuting the operating system in vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

The idea behind CarPlay – renamed from iOS in the Car – is to give iPhone owners a better hands-free experience while driving. As expected, the system primarily revolves around Apple’s voice-activated assistant, Siri, and its Maps app.

Apple showed off the system at the Geneva Motor Show, with a broader range of partners to follow, including Ford, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, among others.

Apple CarPlay

Apple described CarPlay as an “eyes-free” experience for drivers, letting them dictate text messages or make calls hands-free using Siri. The assistant can also read messages or notifications aloud, and provide turn-by-turn directions.

CarPlay’s navigation system tries to anticipate a driver’s destination by scouring recent trips stored on their iPhone’s Maps app. It will also scan your contacts, emails and texts for possible destinations, much like Google’s personal assistant, Google Now.

Drivers can also access their library of podcasts, music and audiobooks as well as music services such as Spotify, iHeartRadio and Apple’s own iTunes Radio.

The system is operated through a dedicated interface and a voice control button on the steering wheel.

CarPlay will arrive as an update to iOS 7 – but will only work for iPhones with Lightning connectors, namely the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. Compatible car models will start shipping later this year.

Google has also promised smart cars running Android by the end of this year, promising drivers access to their favourite apps and music. The company formed the Open Auto Alliance last month to encourage app development, along with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and chipmaker Nvidia.

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