Apple announced today at its Worldwide Developers Conference that the Siri voice-recognition system will soon be integrated with cars from several major automakers. Several companies have pledged to install steering-wheel buttons that will activate Siri on a connected Apple iPhone.
Over the next twelve months, Apple promises that General Motors, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, Audi, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda will all offer hands-free Siri integration. That means drivers could simply push a button and "speak" with their iPhone, without the driver's eyes leaving the road. Apple touts this as "Eyes Free" mode, a jibe at existing "hands free" calling features.
In the presentation at its 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple showed the Siri button being used in a BMW. It's unclear whether the function would work via Bluetooth, or only if the iPhone was plugged into the car directly. The car integration feature is part of iOS 6, the latest version of the iPhone's operating system that was also announced today. We expect that rather than adding new buttons just for Siri, automakers will simply repurpose existing buttons to activate the iPhone feature.
Siri is the voice-recognition system that debuted on the Apple iPhone 4S in August 2011. Among other capabilities, it can create calendar appointments, send emails, and find information simply by listening to its user's voice. Apple suggests asking Siri phrases like, "Tell my wife I'm running late," "Remind me to call the vet," or "Any good burger joints around here?"
Kia is among the many automakers not listed as being involved with the Siri car integration. A spokesman says that while Kia isn't launching anything at this time, the company would consider incorporating Siri into its Uvo infotainment system in the future.
Ford also wasn't part of the Siri Eyes Free announcement. The Detroit automaker noted in a statement that it introduced its own voice-recognition phone system, Sync, five years ago. With four million Sync-enabled cars on the road now, Ford believes that, "Sync will continue to lead the industry by delivering a full-function, voice-enabled connectivity experience available to all customers no matter the phone that they own." It's also worth noting that the Ford Sync software is powered by Microsoft, a direct rival of Apple and the iPhone.
Sources: MacWorld, Kia, Ford