Car companies working with Apple to combine technology

The naturally occurring oil on our fingertips can provide clues to would-be iPhone thieves. (File)

John Aaron,

WASHINGTON – The days of fumbling with an iPhone in the car are coming to an end.

Apple says that new cars will soon come with the capability of interfacing with Apple’s Siri voice assistant. It would be activated with the press of a button on the steering wheel, in what Apple calls an “Eyes Free” system.

This week, Apple announced that nine auto manufacturers were on board, and set to roll out versions in the next 12 months: General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover.

The move would have a significant impact on the auto industry, since Apple’s interfaced devices could supplant the navigation and technology packages that can add thousands of dollars to a vehicle’s sticker price.

Not surprisingly, some of the automakers are less enthusiastic than Apple. Audi tells Fast Company that they have not yet confirmed the 12-month timeframe as “realistic.”

Toyota says it is exploring the technology but has “no applications planned at this time.” And Chrysler would not comment, saying it has not even seen the statements from Apple.

Mercedes, though, is confident they can bring the technology to market in as little as six months. GM and BMW both said they are working with Apple and believe the 12-month timetable is achievable.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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