Apple drives into car stereos with CarPlay integration of Siri, iPhone

San Jose Mercury News

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple announced Monday that select car manufacturers will soon begin offering CarPlay, the tech giant’s attempt to fully integrate the iPhone and its Siri voice-activation system into the dashboard of users’ automobiles.

While many new cars and aftermarket stereos include Bluetooth capability that can connect to drivers’ smartphones and pipe calls, music or map directions through the car speakers, CarPlay is a more integrated experience that more closely resembles Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems and makes access to Siri automatic in a similar fashion to how users cue the female voice on their iPhones.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” Apple marketing executive Greg Joswiak said in Monday’s announcement. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction.”

CarPlay will roll out this week in cars from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, Apple said, and 13 other car manufacturers expect to feature the technology in the future, including Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota. Silicon Valley’s only automobile manufacturer, Tesla Motors, was not included in Monday’s list of partner companies, despite recent reports of communication between the two companies.

CarPlay, originally announced at Apple’s 2013 WWDC event in San Francisco as iOS in the Car, will be offered in select 2014 automobile models and will work with the iPhone 5 and newer models.

Drivers will be able to access several features through CarPlay, with notifications vocalized through Siri and drivers able to respond with voice commands. Apple’s will highlight its own offerings in CarPlay instead of third-party applications; for instance, Apple’s mapping application will be highlighted on the dashboard, but Google Maps will not be accessible.

Google, which recently announced its own similar initiative for the Android mobile operating system dubbed the Open Automotive Alliance, declined a request for comment Monday.

Apple will feature its iTunes Radio streaming-music platform in addition to offering integration with Spotify and iHeartRadio; noticeably absent from that list is Pandora, the Oakland streaming-radio pioneer that has made strong efforts for automobile integration. Pandora has been able to withstand the competition from Apple’s iTunes Radio since the service launched last fall, announcing a growing user base and listenership.

Apple’s stock ended Monday’s morning session at $523.45, a 0.5 percent decline from Friday’s closing price, as Wall Street indexes plunged on fears of Russia’s intentions in Ukraine after soldiers entered the Crimean region late last week. Google declined 1.6 percent to $1,196.33 while Pandora fell 0.9 percent to $37.10.

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