Apple Takes on Autos

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The Geneva Motor Show 2014 will have Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo debut the Apple take on in-vehicle interfaces-- CarPlay, a "smarter, safer and more fun" means of using iDevices in the car.

CarPlayThe system is controllable via either in-car touchscreen or a push-and-hold control button for Siri-based voice navigation of smartphone services, including 3rd party apps such as Spotify and iHeartRadio. However it requires connection of a Lightning-enabled iPhone (5 and up), meaning it is not actual an in-car operating system.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” Apple says. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction.”

As well as the aforementioned Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo CarPlay-enabled vehicles will also be made by  BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.

CarPlay was first presented as "iOS in the Car" by Apple VP Eddy Cue at at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2013. Cue is actually something of a Ferrari aficionado-- a member of the Ferrari board since 2012, Cue admits of having “personally dreamed of owning a Ferrari since [he] was 8 years old and have been lucky to be an owner for the past 5 years.”

Smart cars are poised the next big thing in the auto industry and beyond. Analyst forecast the smart car market is worth a potential $1.6 trillion, and the CES 2014 keynote by Audi chairman Rupert Stadler was all about turning cars into "the largest social devices we own."

According to the Wall Street Journal Audi is already working with Google on an Android-based smart car platform.

The CarPlay launch comes as rumours emerge on Apple's next big acquisition-- electric car maker Tesla Motors, a company whose $23 billion market value should not cause much of a dent for the $160bn inside the Apple money vault. Of course, whether Apple should buy into the auto business is another matter entirely...

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