Get your iDrive on: Apple slots Siri into the dashboard of a dozen automakers

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Apple has partnered with a dozen automobile manufacturers to bring the chatty hands-free assistant Siri to potentially millions of dashboards.

Outside of basic iPod and iPhone connectivity for music and phone calls, Apple has lagged behind Microsoft and others in getting a toehold in cars’ infotainment systems.

That will be changing soon, following the announcement of “iOS in the Car” at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday.

Drivers will be able to ask Siri directions and get navigation results on their car’s LCD screen, control music by voice and of course make and take phone calls. Requesting the reading of emails and texts will likely be another functionality. 

Market share of Microsoft, satellite radio providers and other brands currently used to entertain and inform drivers could be at risk considering the vastness (and loyalty) of Apple’s mobile phone market share along with enhanced functionality of the oft-maligned Maps app, expanded Pandora-style operation of Apple’s iTunes Radio music player, iCloud access and other Siri-controlled aspects of the new iOS7 operating system.

Carmakers will likely shift away from in-house or partner-developed tech systems like MyFordTouch, Que and others and offer driver-centered infotainment “shells” that function with mobile devices – typically phones – as the brains of the system, giving drivers an expanded interface they are familiar with along with more reliable voice recognition and automation. Apple’s move may be the first big step in that shift.

Acura, Ferrari, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Opel (owned by GM), Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo are all on board. Honda, Chevrolet and Hyundai confirmed earlier they that will also work with Apple.

Hyundai released a statement shortly after the WWDC presentation wrapped up, saying “we look forward to bringing iOS in-car integration to our line up next year. With enhanced in-car integration, users will be able to interact using their voice with Siri or the vehicle’s built-in controls to make phone calls, access their music, send and receive messages and get directions. Supporting Hyundai models will be available starting in 2014.”

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