Apple teams with car makers to roll out hands-free iPhone controls

CarPlay aims to make driving while operating iOS controls safer, Apple said

CarPlay message screen.

CarPlay message screen.

Apple has teamed with car manufacturers to let drivers use their iPhones to make calls, access music, get directions and send and receive messages with a touch or a voice command using the car's display and controls.

Called CarPlay, the technology can be controlled from the car's native interface or via the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri, Apple's voice command tool, the company said Monday.

Drivers can connect their iPhones to the car and access contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails using Siri. Incoming messages can also be read by Siri while drivers can dictate responses, Apple said.

Apple Maps is used for turn-by-turn, voice-based, driving directions. It also can anticipate destinations and will convey driving directions and the approximate time of arrival, Apple said.

Music and podcasts can also be accessed through CarPlay. The service supports third-party audio apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio, Apple said.

CarPlay is meant to make operating an iPhone in a car safer with minimized distraction to let drivers focus on driving, Apple said.

The first cars to introduce CarPlay to their customers this week are Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar will introduce CarPlay later this year with cars from BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Citroën, Peugeot, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota to follow in the future, Apple said on its CarPlay page.

CarPlay will be rolled out as an update to iOS 7 and will be available on iPhones with a Lightning connector including the iPhone 5s, 5c and 5. It will be available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K., according to Apple's availability page.

While integration of mobile devices in cars has been described as a key focus for Apple by CEO Tim Cook, other tech companies are also putting emphasis on car integration.

Google, for instance, teamed up with several auto manufacturers in January with the goal to bring Android to cars by the end of this year. In order to achieve this, Google tied with with Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and processor company Nvidia to launch the Open Automotive Alliance which is meant to accelerate auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, the companies said.

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