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Apple and Volkswagen unveil the iBeetle

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The car costs 40 times more than the phone, but the iPhone integration is the big selling point on Volkswagen AG’s new iBeetle, launched at the Shanghai Motor Show, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Apple Inc. and Volkswagen have done a deal to pair their iconic products: the Beetle car and the iPhone. It’s the car that is hoping to get a publicity lift from the smartphone.

But before getting too carried away this is not the “car as platform,” the opening up of a car’s systems to allow independent developers to build car apps. Rather, the iBeetle integration with the iPhone comprises merely an iPhone 5 cradle built into the dashboard.

A fuel-economy calculator and route-comparison features aside, the iPhone’s functions in the new car are still largely entertainment and social, adding to the media features of the car rather than radically rethinking the vehicle.

In one option the phone plays music via Spotify AB or iTunes, in another it reads out messages from SMS or Facebook allowing for hands-free driving. Social features let drivers send location and photos to contacts. Then there’s a Foursquare-like game feature called milestones that rewards users with milestone stickers for traveling certain distances.

Read more on the iBeetle from The Wall Street Journal