Geneva Motor Show: Apple's CarPlay pimps your ride (Updated)

Apple is going to pimp your ride when Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are expected to introduce new vehicles with built-in iPhone support at the Geneva Motor Show this week.

Geneva Motor Show: Apple's CarPlay pimps your ride

[ABOVE: If the view outside your window looks like this, then you should probably stop driving before somebody gets hurt.]

Whats happening?

In a press release rushed out early in the UK morning, Apple confirmed last week's FT report last confirming its iOS in Car initiative has a brand new name, CarPlay, and naming key automobile partners for the plan.

In addition to Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, Apple says that future vehicles from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will also support its in-car iOS integration system.

I've spent time attempting to get information about new CarPlay integrating vehicles from automakers, but they're not saying (though I guess they might have told Jeremy Clarkson). Update: Car makers are beginning to discuss the plan -- here's a very recent announcement from Volvo.

We will get a chance to see what vehicles will initially support the system when manufacturers introduce new models later this week. The Geneva Motor Show opens March 6, so Apple chose to lead the crowd with its motor-tinged release.

It seems possible Volvo will introduce support for the new feature within its hotly tipped Volvo Concept Estate, with its Tesla-inspired in-car entertainment interface. (I'd buy one if I could).

Apple has been working to develop its in-car iOS solution for years. This iteration of the system was promised at last year's WWDC.

This isn't the first iOS integration solution we've seen from inside or outside of Apple, but the company has definitely moved to a brand new start. Why? iPhones supporting CarPlay must have a Lightning connector, so your older models are out the loop. Though this does mean iOS-compatible cars will be able to claim to have a little Lightning under their hood.

What does it do?

It looks like Siri is essential to Apple's in-car system.

CarPlay lets drivers make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access message using Siri-based voice navigation or touch. The company's voice assistant will let you access your contacts, return missed calls or access voicemails.

Siri will also let you know when incoming messages or notifications arrive, and will read those messages for you while also allowing drivers to dictate a response. Siri will also fetch you turn-by-turn driving directions. I think these additional features suggest a significant Siri upgrade may also hit iPhone users, thought as that service is server-based, we probably won't know when it does.

It's not just Siri, of course. You'll be able to control these systems using your car's built-in interface, or just by pushing and holding the voice button on the steering wheel to activate Siri.

It is interesting that CarPlay doesn't just let you access your iTunes music, it also supports third-party audio apps such as Spotify and iHeartRadio.

Ferrari gets CarPlay

[ABOVE: Ferrari will introduce its new convertible, the California T in Geneva this week. Will the California reference extend to running Apple's CarPlay?]

What Apple's saying

“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 press release.

“iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”

CarPlay is interesting because ABI Research believes an astonishing 49.8 percent of vehicles will support the system by 2018.

CarPlay is also interesting in the light of Mobile World Congress last week, when exhibitors displayed lots of confidence that 2014 will see the birth of what they call the 'Internet of Everything', during which we can anticipate this kind of intelligent connectivity will disrupt multiple industries.

Updated: Added Volvo video showing how CarPlay works in those vehicles.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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