Siri is my co-pilot: Apple voice-recognition tech to be built into cars

Siri, the voice-controlled robotic assistant built into the latest iPhone, will be built into future automobiles, Apple announced at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference Monday.

“We’re working with car manufacturers to include a button that will bring up Siri,” said Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Software. An image displayed behind Forstall showed the logos of the car companies Apple is in discussions with: GM, Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Honda, and Toyota.

The company didn’t explain how exactly Siri will be integrated or what it will do.

BMW said in a statement to that it expects to have Siri integration available in its vehicles by mid-2013.

"BMW has been on the forefront of both in-car voice command as well as the integration of smartphones such as the Apple iPhone. The integration of Siri using the BMW voice command steering wheel controls is a logical next step," the statement read. "Apple’s new Eyes Free mode enables drivers to use Siri to interact with their iPhone by voice even in the car. Users can not only make a call but also tune in to their favorite music, send a text message, create reminders, set alarms or create events without ever having to look for their phone."

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Other  car companies contacted by did not immediately respond with any additional details.


But one new feature Apple announced at the show is probably a safe bet: turn by turn mapping.

Apple announced that a home-grown mapping feature would be built into iOS6, the next generation version of the software that powers the iPhone. It will replace the Google Maps service Apple has used since the iPhone was first released, and includes a 3D mapping feature (created from fly-overs of major metropolitan areas) and new mapping features including real-time traffic and turn-by-turn navigation.

Ask Siri "Are we there yet?" and she'll respond with the current status, according to another slide displayed at the event.

"Relax and enjoy the drive. You'll be there in 14 minutes," Siri will respond.

Mercedes has already announced plans to integrate Siri into its A-Class cars, due in Europe later this year. In that system, the iPhone is accessed not by a steering-wheel button but through the “Comand” infotainment system -- a smartphone looking gizmo built into the dashboard.

With it, the driver can ask Siri to send messages, select music tracks and check the weather forecast or stock prices, as well as to make appointments, Mercedes said in February when the system was announced.

The move into cars may be a response to Ford Sync, a technology developed by Ford and Apple arch-rival Micorosft. The voice-activated entertainment system and My Ford Touch touch-screen dashboard space are currently found in many Ford vehicles.

An Apple spokeswoman pointed to a new page on the company's site with information about Siri, which provides additional information.

"Through the voice command button on your steering wheel, you’ll be able to ask Siri questions without taking your eyes off the road," the site reads. "To minimize distractions even more, your iOS device’s screen won’t light up. With the Eyes Free feature, ask Siri to call people, select and play music, hear and compose text messages, use Maps and get directions, read your notifications, find calendar information, add reminders, and more."