During the June 2012 WWDC keynote, Apple announced Eyes Free a planned partnership with a number of automakers (BMW, GM, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda) to integrate Siri into new car models.
According to Apple driver’s will be able to tap a button on the steering wheel and, “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.”
Apple has carved out a presence in the automotive aftermarket since its release of the first iPod almost 11 years ago, but integration of Siri into cars constitutes a new frontier of technological innovation. Remember when drivers lugged around cassettes– or even more ludicrously — CDs if they didn’t want to be stuck listening to the radio? It’s as dated as relying on rabbit ears and broadcast television.
The iPod changed driver’s expectations about in-car entertainment, and it’s not too much of a stretch to see how quickly we might adjust to (and thus feel we needed) Siri’s expertise while driving. If Siri can control iOS functions, then why not expand its capabilities to turning on headlights, windshield wipers, and temperature control. Sadly, Siri will never be able to reach behind the driver’s seat and grab whatever it is that is now completely out of your reach, but her potential is otherwise nearly unlimited.
Siri-like integration to automobiles would usher in a whole new kind of ecosystem for consumers. If Google were to follow suit, then car buyers might have to choose between iOS and Android when buying a new car. It’s not hard to imagine since they’ve already made progress with their driverless car.
We’ve covered speculation that Apple wants to hire engineers with the type of expertise that could signal an entry into the auto industry, but those rumors have yet to be confirmed.
What would full-blown Siri-based integration look like? Would we be talking about a Knight Rider-styled KITT-like interface that car owners could add on to their vehicle the way we now purchase in-dash GPS units? While in some ways it sounds like a fanciful, optimistic vision of the future (the one that usually also includes regular folks sporting jet packs and wearing silver clothing). On the other hand, in dash radios are now standard, and there was certainly a time when even an AM-only radio constituted an upgrade.
How much extra would you pay for Eyes Free in your next car? Would it be enough of a draw to pull you in to a dealership for an upgrade? Let us know in the comments.