It appears that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is gearing up for a major expansion of its “iOS in the Car” device integration system. According to unnamed sources cited by the Financial Times, Apple will announce a partnership with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show next week. Per the Financial Times, the California-based tech company will provide an embedded “in-car operating system” for the various carmakers’ vehicles.
Although the Financial Times report does not name the “in-car operating system,” the description of the system’s functions appear to match Apple’s iOS in the Car. According to the Financial Times, the in-vehicle system will allow users to use Apple Maps for navigation and receive and respond to messages relayed by Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant. The system will also have entertainment functions and allow users to watch movies and listen to music in the car. As noted by the Financial Times, Internet Software and Services SVP Eddy Cue joined Ferrari’s board in 2012.
Apple first revealed iOS in the Car at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference and the software was included as part of iOS 7. “iOS in the Car seamlessly integrates your iOS device — and the iOS experience — with your in-dash system,” noted Apple on its iOS page. “If your vehicle is equipped with iOS in the Car, you can connect your iPhone 5 or later 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.”
At the 2013 WWDC, Apple announced a total of twelve automakers that will provide support for the iOS in the Car functionality, including Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. Although the Financial Times report does not name any other specific carmakers, it noted that a “number of other manufacturers are expected to incorporate it into models in 2014.” Apple’s previously announced partners included Acura, Chevrolet, Honda (NYSE:HMC), Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan, and Opel.
“In-vehicle infotainment” systems that are able to seamlessly integrate with consumers’ mobile devices are a growing trend in the automotive industry, according to findings from ABI Research. “It is inevitable that consumers will demand to be able to use their smartphones in cars, even in luxury cars equipped with the latest top-of-the-range fully embedded infotainment systems,” noted ABI Research analyst Gareth Owen. According to ABI Research, almost half of all “in-vehicle infotainment” systems will include Apple’s iOS in the Car by 2018.
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