- Apple's new iOS 7 operating system, to be released this fall, offers improved user interface and hundreds of new functions.
- Apple is also introducing iOS in the Car, a system that provides integration of phones and other mobile devices with vehicle multimedia systems.
- Apple is working with a number of automakers to make the new technology compatible with their 2014 vehicles.
SAN FRANCISCO — The long-rumored Apple iCar may be getting closer to reality, with the fall release of the company's iOS in the Car, one of the most intriguing features of Apple's new iOS7 mobile operating system.
Apple said it's working with several manufacturers to integrate iOS 7 into their vehicles, beginning with the 2014 model year. Among the car companies and brands that have signed up so far are Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Jaguar, Ferrari, Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Hyundai/Kia, Chevrolet and Opel.
Apple's iOS in the Car is designed to mesh with vehicle multimedia systems, projecting information onto the vehicle's display from your iPhone. Hands-free access is afforded by Apple's Siri voice recognition app.
With iOS in the Car, the vehicle's dashboard screen mimics that of the mobile device, while its sound system provides audio. But rather than the normal array of iPhone app tiles, the system displays a group of four screens designed specifically for cars: phone, music, maps and messaging.
Among other functions, drivers will be able to stream music, make phone calls, access voice mail, send and receive text messages, get directions, and find the nearest hamburger joint, all hands-free. Moreover, Apple says, "iOS in the Car knows when you're leaving home for work — or vice versa — and displays traffic conditions and your ETA."
That last bit may sound a tad creepy, but clearly such functionality would be useful in an emergency, along with the ability to locate a towing service, call the insurance company, or — worst case — dial 911 or find the closest hospital.
Edmunds says: Interacting with Siri is definitely preferable to fumbling for buttons while driving.