If you mashed up the empathetic operating system from the movie "Her" and the crime fighting car from the TV show "Knight Rider," you might get something that resembled CarPlay. Apple announced today at the Geneva International Motor Show that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo would be the first to sport the new software later this week.
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"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing, in a statement. "iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction."
In addition to accessing calls and messages from voice commands alone, Apple said that CarPlay can also be used for better and more intuitive driving directions. The new software could sift through emails and text messages to anticipate where your car is likely to go next and then plot the route using iOS's own mapping app. CarPlay will also support third-party audio apps beyond iTunes, such as Spotify and iHeartRadio.
Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said that Apple's decision to announce CarPlay overseas, as opposed to the auto shows in Detroit, New York City or Los Angeles, makes sense. "They're a global company and China has become the largest car market," he told ABC News. China is also Apple's second-largest market, behind only the United States.
Apple has several car manufacturers, including Toyota and General Motors, lined up to incorporate CarPlay into their newest models. However, one car company is conspicuously absent. "It doesn't look like Volkswagon is on the list," said Brauer. "But [Apple] has almost everyone that plays a major role in global auto sales."
While it appears that Apple has a leg up over Google and the Open Automotive Alliance in bridging the gap between smartphones and cars, Brauer doesn't see either having a stronghold on the automobile industry in the long run.
"It will play out similar to cell phone carriers," he said. "Whether you're Apple or Android, you can get either type with T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon. The same thing is true with cars."
Apple said that CarPlay would come out as an iOS 7 update and would work only with Lightning-enabled iPhones. The company did not comment on when customers can expect the update or which car models would feature CarPlay.