Drivers will soon be able to control their iPhones by hitting dashboard knobs, tapping a touchscreen or via voice control as part of a system Apple is unveiling to bridge the gap between smartphones and cars.
Called CarPlay, it aims to keep drivers from fumbling with their phones while they're behind the wheel, even as it brings them more options (and potential distractions) in a wider range of apps that drivers can access on the go.
Apple says CarPlay will be available later this year in vehicles made by Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Jaguar, Volvo and Ferrari. The system will be featured in models unveiled later this week at the Geneva International Motor Show by Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Ferrari.
The company also cites commitments for future collaborations with a dozen other carmakers such as Ford, Toyota, BMW and Nissan.
The level of integration will be deep enough that the new system might unnerve some drivers. We're thinking of this passage from Apple's announcement Monday:
"CarPlay can also predict where you most likely want to go using addresses from your email, text messages, contacts, and calendars."
The new system was announced last summer, when Apple called it iOS in the Car. Rebranded as CarPlay, it will work with all iPhone 5 models. In addition to apps made by Apple, it will be able to control third-party apps that offer streaming music and sports broadcasts.
CarPlay promises to integrate the iPhone's tools and features into the controls and environment of a car. But Apple says the apps have been "reimagined" to let drivers use them "while your eyes and hands stay where they belong."
The Apple announcement come as cars' entertainment and control systems have grown to be more important than ever. They're commonly mentioned in new-car reviews, for instance. And when a company takes a misstep, it can cost it in reports on customer satisfaction — as has been the case with Ford in recent years.
The U.S. automaker will ditch a system developed with Microsoft in favor of a new one it will create in a partnership with Blackberry, The New York Times reported last week.