Is Apple’s iOS 7 Targeting Cars?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be on the verge of making some big changes in the way its mobile operating systems look and function, as iOS 7 is expected to come with some big design changes and cater to the auto industry.

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may be the company pioneering the flat design for its operating systems, but Apple could be the one making it widely known to users. According to people familiar with Apple’s upcoming iOS 7, the operating system will be “very, very flat.”

Because smartphone and tablet screens are so much smaller than the screens on laptops and desktops, it can be difficult to rifle through a clutter of graphically intricate icons to find something. However, the simplicity of a flat interface makes it a lot quicker for users to find what they need. It seems Microsoft knew this when it created Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. In Apple’s case, there were proponents of skeuomophism, which favored designs based on real objects, located in powerful positions. But, others at the company were interested flatter design, like Jony Ive, who is now in charge of designing the graphic user interface, rather than the hardware.

There are worries that the design changes could disturb some longtime users of iOS who may suddenly find themselves unfamiliar with their beloved operating system, but the update isn’t supposed to change too much or make the device any harder to use. In fact, the interface should be simpler as the icons will be simpler.

Apple likes for its products to be seamless and integrated. The links between its computers, its software, and its i-devices are apparent. Apple could be trying to take that integration even further after the software update.

Apparently, some of Apple’s higher ups are fans of cars, and the company has been approaching automakers to discuss opportunities to integrate iOS devices with the on-board displays of cars — with the potential to go even deeper into the automobile’s computers. This sort of engagement would put Apple Maps and Siri in a much more central role for drivers, as they would be in charge of guiding users.

The integration could even have Apple’s devices informing users of deeper statistics and diagnostics of their cars. So far, Apple has approached BMW, Toyota (NYSE:TM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Tata Motors’ (NYSE:TTM) Land Rover about implemented Siri-aided driving guidance.

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This sort of deep integration could protect Apple, as it may become entrenched in areas that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) would have a hard time routing it. Apple has the advantage of uniformity in its devices, and it would have an easier time making systems for automobile integration. Due to all the fragmentation between devices running on Android, it might not be possible for Google to work out a similar deal with automakers, at least not yet.

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