Apple's CarPlay System to Debut in Mercedes, Ferrari at Geneva Auto Show


The system allows drivers to access iPhones from the steering wheel or dashboard touch screen, part of a trend toward embedding technology from Apple and Google directly into auto infotainment systems.

Confirming the increasing co-dependence between carmakers and Silicon Valley and the importance of connectivity to drivers, Mercedes, Ferrari and Volvo will debut Apple's CarPlay system later this week at the Geneva International Motor Show.

CarPlay is Apple's iPhone integration platform that allows drivers to make calls, retrieve messages and use Apple's Maps application by tapping a steering wheel button.

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When an iPhone is paired to a CarPlay-enabled vehicle, the driver can use Siri -- Apple's voice command system -- to access the phone's functions, including making calls, composing mail messages by voice or listening to incoming messages read by Siri.

"CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice-president of iPhone marketing, in a statement.

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As drivers demand seamless connectivity between their smart phones and cars, automakers have struggled to make their proprietary infotainment systems compatible with third-party operating systems like Apple's iOS. 

Audi made waves at International CES in Las Vegas in January when it announced a partnership to integrate Google's Android operating system into its cars' navigation software.

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At the North American International Auto Show, Audi of America president Scott Keogh told The Hollywood Reporter that allowing Apple and Google such deep integration into Audi's own in-car technology did not risk ceding control to third-party suppliers. 

"I think there's a myth that says all of a sudden we're handcuffed as a company -- am I an Android car or am I an iOS car?" Keogh said. "We have Google in all of our cars but we have great capabilities with Apple as well."

CarPlay will first be available in vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, and later from BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and other manufacturers.