Depending on the car they drive, iPhone owners may soon become even more dependent on Siri, Apple's intelligent voice agent. On Friday, BMW announced it will make support for Siri Eyes Free -- and for Samsung's S-Voice -- standard in its 2014 cars.
Apple's Eyes Free Siri service, announced last year, enables users to connect an iPhone to a compatible car, use Siri, and turn off the iPhone's display. The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant has said it is working with Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Land Rover, as well as BMW, on Eyes Free.
BMW's iDrive console, which is the car company's integrated mobile interface in its ConnectedDrive Internet/mobile apps system, has been updated to allow users access to iPhone music via Bluetooth, rather than through the previously required wired connection. BMW already has some voice control, so passengers will need to make a decision about a 21st Century issue -- whether to talk to the car or to Siri, either of which can be selected from a steering wheel button.
ConnectedDrive will now be part of every BMW, beginning this fall, at no additional cost. The company says it will pay for the addition via the sale of apps created by BMW or third parties.
iDrive currently supports such popular third-party apps as Pandora or Rhapsody, and such iPhone apps as Calendar, Facebook or Twitter. The new 2014 iDrive 4.2 also will support Web browsing while a car is stopped, voice search for locations via Google, advanced real-time traffic information, and a ConnecteDrive store for buying services from the car.
BMW says that it will include a SIM card in some of its models, possibly as soon as July, so that owners can have a data connection in the car in order to choose BMW Online services, such as Yelp, stocks, or parking garage information on a subscription basis. Owners will be able to purchase the services directly from the car or from an external device, such as a laptop or smartphone.
The car company also said it will add support for Android apps later this year. At some point, BMW has said, cellular connectivity is expected to become standard across its product line.
For its part, Apple is reportedly aggressively pursuing the car market, intending to embed its Maps and Siri services into vehicles. Instead of simply having your iPhone on a dashboard holder providing Apple Maps, the app would show up on a car's built-in dashboard display in place of the proprietary GPS system some cars currently have. Apple is envisioning Siri becoming the interactive voice agent for a wide variety of vehicles.
But Apple's also looking beyond voice or Maps. In April, for instance, news stories pointed to patent applications from Apple for using an iPhone as a smart-key or as a car locator.