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Apple CarPlay puts iOS on your dashboard

Apple has officially confirmed its in-car dashboard extension to iOS, known as CarPlay

Apple has officially announced CarPlay, an extension of its iOS 7 mobile operating system that puts control of your smartphone on your car’s dashboard.

Built around Apple’s Siri voice commands, CarPlay could feasibly replace the need for distracting centre consoles or physical button controls altogether. The company calls it an “eyes-free” experience, which can be used to respond to incoming calls or make outgoing ones, dictate text messages, ask for directions or control music playback, either using the tracks on your smartphone or via iTunes radio.

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Of course touchscreen displays and centre console screens are also accounted for. A brand new interface, heavily inspired by iOS, can be used to control your phone directly. Directions are shown in real time with Apple Maps, or album art fills the screen when playing music.

Apple CarPlay

Beyond Apple’s integrated apps, CarPlay will also support selected third-party music streaming apps including Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and Beats Radio. It doesn’t look like video apps are supported for passengers that want a distraction during road trips, however.

Apple has confirmed the first cars to support CarPlay will be coming from the likes of Volvo, Mercedes, Honda, Jaguar and Ferrari at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Nissan, Peugeot, BMW and General Motors have also pledged to incorporate the system in their future cars, although it’s currently unknown whether that will happen this year or from 2015 onwards. Ford is also on the partners list, having previously used a Microsoft system for its Sync in-car voice commands.

CarPlay enabled vehicles will have a dedicated voice control button on the steering wheel, although it won’t be a requirement for controlling the system. According to Apple, the system is so deeply integrated that if a button, dial switch “controls your screen, it controls CarPlay.”

Apple CarPlay

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing, said of the announcement. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimised distraction.”

Unfortunately CarPlay will be limited to iPhones with Lightning connectors – meaning the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5 are all onboard but older handsets won’t be compatible. You’ll also need a new iOS 7 update, which is expected to arrive later in the year.