Apple dials up effort to meld iPhone with cars

By By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is accelerating the race to make smartphone applications easier and safer to use in cars.

Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are previewing Apple's iPhone technology for cars this week at an auto show in Geneva.

The partnerships give Apple an early lead

over Google's loosely knit family of Android phones in a duel to make

mobile applications

more accessible while drivers are behind the wheel. Apple's iOS

mobile software and Google's Android operating system power

most of the smartphones in the world.

Just two months ago, Google Inc. announced it is working with several major automakers to turn Android phones into an essential

part of cars. Google hopes to finish work on its system for tethering Android phones to cars by the end of this year.

Apple Inc. announced its automobile ambitions nine months ago when it unveiled its "iOS in the Car" initiative — a reference

to the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Now that the idea is moving closer to reality, Apple is renaming the technology "CarPlay."

The system announced Monday enables iPhones to plug into cars so drivers can call up maps, make calls and request music with

voice commands or a touch on a vehicle's dashboard screen.

By making smartphones work more seamlessly

with automobiles, both Apple and Google are hoping to immerse their

services even

deeper into peoples' lives. In doing so, the companies expect to

make money by selling advertising, applications and upgrades

on smartphones that will become even more indispensable.

"IPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized

distraction," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone and iOS product marketing.

Automakers are hoping vehicles that are compatible with the top-selling smartphones will be easier to sell to consumers who

can't fathom living without the devices.

Cars of recent vintage increasingly feature

electronics designed to cater to drivers' high-tech desires, but those

systems

still haven't attracted a widespread following. That has led more

automakers to conclude that it makes sense to work directly

with technology companies such as Apple and Google to turn their

cars into smartphone extensions.

CarPlay requires Apple's latest mobile software, iOS 7, and an iPhone 5, 5C or 5S.

Ferrari is previewing CarPlay on its

four-wheel-drive FF model. Volvo plans to feature the iPhone system in

its redesigned

Volvo XC90 sports utility vehicle. Mercedes-Benz isn't disclosing

which models will get CarPlay, but expects both its S-Class

large sedan and C-Class midsize sedan should be compatible with

the system.

A long list of other automakers, including

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Honda, also are drawing up

plans for CarPlay,

according to Apple.

So far, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Audi have signed up for Google's "Open Automotive Alliance" for Android.

GM and Honda declined to comment on their CarPlay plans.

Ford said it will deploy CarPlay as one of

several options for making its cars work more smoothly with smartphones.

The automaker

already features a voice-control system called "Sync" made by

Microsoft Corp. in some of its cars. Ford also offers its own

touch-screen technology in its vehicles.

The different choices are designed to ensure "you don't have to make a $30,000 decision about what car you're going to buy

based on your $200 smartphone," said Raj Nair, Ford's global product development chief.