Early last month, 9to5Mac suggested that Apple is developing a modified version of iOS (its mobile operating system) that can work on touchscreens in cars. Yesterday, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, we learned that the rumor is true.
During his portion of the computing world's best-known dog-and-pony show, Apple Vice President Eddy Cue didn't provide many details about the in-dash version of iOS. However, he did reveal a few important facts and provided some tantalizing clues of what's to come:
- Most new cars in America already have some degree of integration with Apple gadgets: "Ninety-five percent of the cars being sold today have integrated music playback and control from an iOS device".
- The next version of that integration will jump to a "whole nother" [sic] level. Beginning in the 2014 calendar year, many new-car shoppers will be able to purchase vehicles with a slimmed-down version of iOS.
- This new version of iOS will allow users to make and receive calls, play music, listen to and dictate texts, and, of course, get directions using (the much-maligned) Apple Maps.
- Siri will be packaged with the system to allow for easy, intuitive voice controls.
- The list of companies offering this new version of iOS is impressive. It includes high-end automakers like Ferrari, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz as well as mainstream manufacturers like Ford, Honda, and Nissan. Because Cue says that the new iOS integration will debut in 2014, it'll likely appear on model-year 2015 cars.
The big news here, of course, is that the iPhone is America's best-selling smartphone. As a result, this new version of iOS could help Apple shore up its eroding market share and help automakers make some very big profits. It's true that more folks now use Android, but the Android platform is very, very fragmented, with different phones and carriers using different versions of the software. In other words, finding a one-size-fits-all Android equivalent to Apple's in-dash software will be difficult for now.
That said, Samsung's Galaxy series is very, very popular, and it has released a number of interesting Android-based features for drivers. It's not ready to compete with iOS just yet, but that day could be coming soon -- maybe even before iOS rolls into cars next year.
For more details and commentary, check out our colleagues at Motor Authority.