Apple is officially putting iOS behind the wheel. The iPhone maker has announced agreements with a host of the world’s largest automakers that will allow their vehicles to run Apple’s new CarPlay infotainment interface. The feature lets users connect their iPhones to their cars via its lighting connector, pushing an augmented version of the handset’s home screen to your infotainment system’s display.
Apple’s CarPlay will be available via an iOS 7 update and will be coming to select vehicles in 2014. The first CarPlay partners include Volvo, Mercedes and Ferrari.
Users can interact with CarPlay via either their vehicle’s touch screen or through Siri hands-free mode by pressing and holding their car’s steering wheel-mounted voice control button. While connected, users can access their handset’s Phone, Music, Maps, Messages and Now Playing apps. The interface even apes iOS 7’s flat design scheme, bringing over the same app icons you’d find on your iPhone, as well as a digital version of the phone’s Home button.
Apple says CarPlay will allow users to access their contacts, place calls, return missed calls and listen to voicemails through Siri. Similarly, the virtual assistant will read incoming messages and notifications and let you dictate replies. Apple is including Maps integration with the feature, saying that it can anticipate your intended destination based on your recent trips via your contacts, emails and texts.
CarPlay also lets users listen to their music, audiobooks, podcasts and iTunes Radio. The feature offers support for such apps as Spotify and iHeartRadio, via either the vehicles touch-screen controls or by telling Siri what you want to listen to.
Apple has been making progress in the auto space over the past several years, starting with iPod integration and leading up to its most recent Siri Eyes-Free mode, which allows drivers of select vehicles to use Siri behind the wheel via their vehicle’s voice control button. This is the first time, however, that Apple has offered an in-car solution that replicates its operating system on a vehicle’s display.
Cupertino’s fascination with cars has lead many in the industry to speculate as to whether the company may produce its own vehicle. Last spring, representatives for the iPhone met with Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, further fueling rumors that the company was looking for additional ways to penetrate the car market.