Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Apple looks to iOS 7 technologies as it hopes to gain deeper automobile integration

Apple wants to integrate its Siri and Maps functionality deeply into cars, according to sources familiar with the project. Information on the initiative came on Tuesday as developers continue to await the first developer beta for iOS 7.

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Many cars now have the ability to connect to your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth or cable. In addition, there are plenty of third-party accessories that supply nice car dashboard placement. In this new initiative, Apple wants carmakers to develop on updated car center consoles that would have built-in attachment set-ups for iDevices.

Once connected, an iDevice's Maps app, for example, would override a car's included and proprietary GPS navigation with its own. The version displayed in-car would be optimized for the center console's built-in display.

The sources -- and there were multiple sources reporting the same thing -- described the functionality as basically mirroring the display of the iPhone’s Maps app onto the bigger screen included in the vehicle's console. This functionality would differ from the new Volkswagen iBeetle that uses a VW app which integrates an iPhone with other car services.

The most interesting portion of the report, though, is the statement that the new car functionality is based on technology that exists in the still-unseen iOS 7. Despite that, the integration could possibly be far off. Not only would manufacturers put any such release through extensive testing, it is likely that it would be limited to newer iOS hardware, based on processing power requirements as well as the fact that Apple would probably limit connectivity to either Bluetooth or their new Lightning connector.

Apple could debut this new in-car integration at WWDC in June, or at the (expected) later iPhone hardware event this year, as the feature would seem to be iPhone-specific (no one -- we assume -- would want to mount their iPad on their dashboard). It's unclear when the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will make such a move.

An announcement doesn't necessary mean quick delivery, either. At WWDC 2012 (last June), Apple announced that Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Honda, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes and Toyota were all on board for its Siri Eyes Free program. To date, though, only General Motors has implemented the feature -- and only on two Chevrolet models. Of the rest, only Honda and Mercedes have announced actual plans.

A natural question about this feature: Do you really want Apple's Maps app giving you directions in your car, considering the numerous stories of its mistakes, some dangerous?

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