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Apple to bring iPhone software to autos

Apple said it is bringing its mobile operating system to automobiles this year with a new CarPlay system that links its iPhone with the vehicle’s in-dash display to allow drivers to access the phone’s maps, music and messages.

The company confirmed that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will demonstrate the new technology at this week’s Geneva Auto Show and it expects more than a dozen other major car manufacturers to bring the system to its automobiles in the future.

Apple said CarPlay will be available in certain cars later this year from its three European partners as well as Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar.

CarPlay, which will require an update to its current iOS 7 operating system and would only work with iPhone 5S, 5C, and 5, can be activated using a push-and-hold button on the steering wheel, Apple said. CarPlay takes advantage of Siri, the iPhone’s voice-activated digital assistant, which will respond to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages aloud and letting them dictate a reply or make a call.

The announcement is the latest sign of an intensifying fight between Apple and Google’s Android operating system to control the connected cars of the future. It’s an extension of a rivalry rooted in hundreds of millions of smartphones and tablet computers. With 80 million new cars and light trucks sold each year, automobiles represent a significant new opportunity for Internet-based software and services where Apple and Google are already competing.

Read more about Apple's auto plans in The Wall Street Journal.