By David Thomas on June 9, 2013
Today, Apple introduced a new operating system for its popular mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad.
It's called iOS 7 and will be available to download this fall. The new operating system features a number of design changes to the devices' interface. It also adds a new application that will let an iPhone5 display a few essential functions through a car's multimedia system.
On its website, Apple says this of the new technology: "iOS in the Car seamlessly integrates your iOS device — and the iOS experience — with your in-dash system. If your vehicle is equipped with iOS in the Car, you can connect your iPhone 5 and interact with it using the car's built-in display and controls or Siri Eyes Free. Now you can easily and safely make phone calls, access your music, send and receive messages, get directions and more. It's all designed to let iPhone focus on what you need, so you can focus on the road."
"Text messages appear right on your car's display. Siri can read them to you while you listen over your car's speakers. And to reply, just dictate to Siri."
Apple is looking to streamline smartphone use in the car and working with at least a dozen automakers, including Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Nissan, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Ferrari and Jaguar.
When synced with a compatible vehicle, iOS 7 displays a car-specific group of screens for users. The familiar index pages of app tiles aren't shown. Instead a new screen highlighting four main functions — maps, phone, music and messaging — is the homepage.
"Use your car's onboard controls for your music, including iTunes Radio, audiobooks, podcasts, third-party audio apps and more."
It's unknown which vehicles will be ready for this system by fall, but Apple used the screen from Chevy's tiny Spark in its keynote presentation. We tested the Spark's ability to port a third-party iPhone navigation app when the car debuted, but it did not look or feel as polished as the native iPhone Map app or Google's Map app.
Other automakers gave further details. "We look forward to bringing iOS in-car integration to our lineup next year. With enhanced in-car integration, users will be able to interact using their voice with Siri or the car's built-in controls to make phone calls, access their music, send and receive messages and get directions," Acura spokesman Chuck Schifsky told Cars.com. He also said both Honda and Acura vehicles supporting iOS 7 technology won't be available until 2014.
Hyundai released a nearly identical statement and confirmed availability will begin in in 2014.
"Commute summary: iOS in the Car knows when you're leaving home for work — or vice versa — and displays traffic conditions and your ETA."
We'll have more about this technology in the coming months. For now, tell us in the comment section below if you think this is the future of in-car multimedia, or will automakers want to use their own systems?
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David