Has the iCar Arrived? Apple Launches In-Car App

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Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Katie Holliday

Speculation over the launch of an Apple iCar has excited the tech industry for some time, and now it looks as if the wait is finally over.

On Monday, the tech giant unveiled an application that will enable drivers to integrate their iPhone and car entertainment system. The app, called CarPlay, will be rolled out by Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo in Geneva this week.

“iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing.

Through use of the app, drivers will be able to make calls, use the Google Maps function, listen to music and access messages through use of voice or touch.

Users can control the application from the car’s native interface or push and hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri — the voice activation software.

According to Apple (AAPL), once a driver’s iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri will enable drivers to access their contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails without using their hands. Drivers will be able to dictate responses to messages, or simply make a call.

Apple said the app will also anticipate a driver’s destination based on recent trips, via contacts, emails or texts and will provide routing instructions, traffic conditions and an estimated time of arrival.

Apple CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5.

BMW Group, Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Honda (HMC), Hyundai Motor, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor (TM) are also set to offer CarPlay in the future.

CarPlay will be available in select cars shipping in 2014.

Information on Apple’s “iOS in the Car” software was leaked by mobile app developer Steven Troughton-Smith in January.

A San Francisco Chronicle report of a meeting between electric car manufacturer Tesla (TSLA) and Apple back in October, reported last month, stoked expectations of a much-anticipated iCar.

Google, one of Apple’s key competitors, is said to be close behind in this space. It has been using its Android operating system to develop partnerships with Honda, Hyundai and Vauxhaull, according to media reports.

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