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Apple's CarPlay bringing iOS to cars this year

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Apple unveiled CarPlay–"seamless" integration of iPhone and automobile–yesterday morning in a press release. Connecting an iPhone via Lightning cable will allow the driver to access a number of iOS features through a touch-enabled display unit in the dashboard and/or steering wheel controls. The company announced a previous iteration called "iOS in the Car" during the Worldwide Developers Conference last year.

Anyone who has used activated Google Now with the touchless "OK, Google" voice command can attest: There is no substitute for accessing a phone's features safely and effortlessly behind the wheel. Perhaps most integral in CarPlay, Siri will be easily accessible from the wheel, which may be a more useful venue for her. Many iPhone users still do not use or think to use Siri on a daily basis, but may be more open to utilizing voice controls in the car to send text messages, make calls, and control the radio.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” says Apple’s Vice President of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing, Greg Joswiak.

Cook and company have struck deals with the auto industry's biggest names including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will unveil their CarPlay-enabled vehicles next week at the Geneva Auto Show. A few of these same companies–with the addition of Audi–have also recently worked with Google on a similar deal as part of the Open Automotive Alliance to integrate Android OS with car head units.

Be cautious not to confuse "CarPlay" for "Google Play," however, as the service will understandably not support Google Maps navigation and instead will natively use Apple Maps. This may ignite a fire under some iPhone users who were burned by the app's rocky launch, but it is worth noting the service has gotten much better since then and should not create much confusion for drivers. If this were not the case, one would hope Apple would avoid actively pushing their infamously buggy maps to the dashboards of thousands of drivers.

As previously mentioned, CarPlay connects to an iPhone via Apple's proprietary Lightning cable. This means without an adaptor, only the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s will be compatible and will need to update iOS 7 when it is released sometime this year. Also worth noting is that Pandora will not be supported, at least not at launch, but other internet radio apps (e.g. iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Spotify) will be. Pricing for CarPlay has not yet been revealed.

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