Apple gets into the automotive game

By Mark Webster

Apple is testing the motoring realm with changes to its mobile device operating system.

At the Apple World Wide Developers' conference in San Francisco, the Californian tech giant announced several upcoming iOS features that will morph the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch even more into the automotive experience.

First, Apple is moving away from Google Maps and has been developing its own worldwide mapping tech for iOS 6, the next iDevice operating system. Its own tech, Maps, has been built specifically for iDevices from the ground up. It features an integrated traffic service which will work throughout the world - New Zealand even popped up as a map in the keynote - plus turn-by-turn navigation, voiced Siri integration (Siri is Apple's digital "personal assistant" that responds to normally phrased questions) and an enhanced 3D view called Flyover.

Maps even works on the lock screen so if you're cruising along with your iDevice on the charger, it may go to sleep but won't stop showing relevant info. One of the map views is Traffic, specially designed to be very readable while indicating conditions.

Apple will be using real-time traffic data to build a traffic service that will provide incident reports to users on the go.

This will draw on satnav giant TomTom, making a huge amount of information available to offer redirections around obstructions and up-to-the-minute updates to your ETA.

With full Siri integration, you can ask things such as "How do I get to Rainbow's End?" and "Where's the nearest petrol station?" or get Yelp to book you a table at a cafe. You can even ask it, "Are we there yet?".

Beyond that, though, Apple is working with car manufacturers to integrate Siri on the iDevice using a button on the steering wheel. This will mean functions can be undertaken hands-free while you're on the move.

Apple calls this Eyes Free as against Hands Free. Pressing the steering-wheel button will activate Siri without even lighting the screen, for less distraction. From then you control Siri by voice anyway.

In the next 12 months, BMW, Honda, Land-Rover, General Motors, Audi, Mercedes and Toyota intend to bring out models with this feature.

This could be pretty useful, since Siri is getting much more international support: Canadian English and Canadian French tunings arrive with iOS 6, plus Spanish tuned for Mexico, Spain and the United States, Italian, French and German tuned for Switzerland, and additional languages Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese with specific location tunings for the two Chinese languages.

French, German and Japanese, plus English tuned to the US, England and Australia, already exist. But there's no New Zild, so you'll have to speak clearly.

There has been speculation that a smaller 7-inch iPad is in the works.

This is a pretty tenuous rumour and there was no mention at the conference, but it would actually make sense for a car, in which an iPad is a bit too cumbersome and an iPhone too small.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 24 Apr 2014 22:11:10 Processing Time: 395ms