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Siri comes to cars

Apple incursion into the automotive market is a direct challenge to Microsoft

Published: June 15, 2012, 4:00 AM
Updated: September 24, 2014, 12:04 PM

iPhone - Steve Jobs

If you're an Apple-phile you already know Siri – the brand's digital 'personal assistant' that converses with you in a stilted female voice.

Soon she'll be riding with you in your car.

At a software developer conference held in San Francisco, this week, Apple announced that nine automakers have agreed to include a pushbutton on their steering wheels that will summon Siri to assist with your digital duties.

You won't have to touching your iPhone, so long as it's connected to the car via a USB cable. .

Audi, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota have all committed to the concepte, albeit on varying timetables.

Apple calls the feature Eyes Free, pitching it as a tool for combating distracted driving, which undoubtedly makes it an attractive proposition for manufacturers.

On the one hand, they're being pushed by consumers and each other to keep adding more digital communication capability. On the other, they are being pushed by safety and government agencies (particularly in the U.S.), to curtail features that can create driver distraction.

Eyes Free will allow a driver to dictate text messages, make calls and obtain directions and other information solely by voice control. Provided you have an iPhone.

That point will undoubtedly irritate makers of competitive smart phones, such as those using Google's Android interface and Blackberry.

It's also interesting to note that Ford, Hyundai, and Kia are not included in the list of participating automakers. All three of those companies already have integrated voice-apps based on Microsoft technology that is built into their vehicles.

Are we coming to the point where people will start choosing their cars based on the type of smart phone they favour? Or vice versa? Or could this scenario morph another VHS-Beta situation with one approach coming out on top?

Only time will tell.