Volkswagen iBeetle and iBeetle CabrioletEnlarge Photo
June is a big month for Apple fans. That's when the company typically makes major announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference (which sold out this year in two minutes flat).
We're not entirely sure what to expect from WWDC 2013, but rumor has it that one of Tim Cook's onstage revelations may involve updates to iPhone that will allow the device to interact with your car in very interesting ways.
WHAT'S A-COMING (MAYBE)
Last week, we told you about the iBeetle, a special edition of the Volkswagen Beetle equipped with a dock for the iPhone. iBeetle owners will also enjoy a new app that lets owners use their handset as a sort of "second screen" for infotainment.
What's allegedly coming to WWDC is a substantially bigger bombshell.
According to 9to5Mac (which has a strong track record when it comes to rumors), Apple is working with automakers to create a special version of its next mobile operating system, iOS 7, that will work on vehicles' center screens. Once drivers connect their iPhones to a car's infotainment systems -- either by wire or Bluetooth -- they'll be able to interact with a modified version of their handset's screen, right on the vehicle's dashboard.
In other words, if the rumors are true, Apple is working to develop a new version of its mobile operating system that's built directly into vehicles and optimized for in-car usage. This is more than just an app that's mirrored on a car's dashboard, this would be a new variant of Apple's mobile software that's baked directly into new vehicles. (Insert apple pie pun here, if you must.)
That would represent a huge coup for Apple and some nice improvements for drivers, too. On the upside, features like Siri and apps like Waze would become even easier to use while driving. On the downside, so would Apple Maps.
9to5Mac's source suggests that while the announcement may come in June, it may be a while before the software arrives in vehicles. That's not surprising: the last thing Apple wants is another fiasco like the one that followed the debut of the half-baked iOS 6 last year.
That said, if Cook & Co. are able to ink the necessary deals with automakers and get their software up to speed, this would represent a very aggressive move into the automotive sector on Apple's part. Steve Jobs didn't live long enough to see an Apple-branded car, but this may be an even better -- and more cost-effective -- way of conquering the auto industry.