Honda, GM: We'll use Siri voice technology
Honda Motor Co. and General Motors have confirmed that they plan to integrate Siri, Apple Inc.'s voice technology used on the iPhone, into upcoming vehicles.
Spokespeople from the two automakers confirmed the plans last week after announcements made by Apple in San Francisco. Toyota and Audi spokespeople said their companies were working with Apple but did not confirm specific plans to use Siri.
Apple executives said four other automakers -- Chrysler Group, Mercedes-Benz, BMW AG and Jaguar Land Rover -- have agreed to use Siri in their entertainment systems, according to a report on Yahoo! Autos.
Vehicles compatible with Siri will allow drivers to make calls, dictate text messages, look up directions and use other Siri functions. Pressing a button on the steering wheel activates Siri, and the driver can speak commands to the iPhone hands-free. The iPhone is connected to the vehicle's infotainment system, typically with a USB cable or wirelessly.
A new Siri feature, Eyes Free, enables drivers to control more iPhone functions with the screen off to mitigate distracted driving. Eyes Free will be part of Apple's latest version of its mobile operating software due this fall.
"A number of auto manufacturers have committed to delivering Eyes Free Siri integration in the next 12 months," Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone software, said during a keynote speech in San Francisco as a screen behind him showed the logos of GM, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
Apple is making a calculated move into the auto industry, and the company's acceptance by many automakers points to the strengthening bond between autos and smartphones.
GM has been an early adopter. The MyLink infotainment system offered on the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and Sonic small cars will be compatible with Siri, GM spokesman Scott Fosgard said. The vehicles go on sale this year.
Toyota spokeswoman Carly Schaffner said Toyota was working with Apple but declined to discuss when Siri compatibility may come to Toyota vehicles.
"Apple and Toyota are exploring the potential to introduce the Siri Eyes Free Mode interface into Toyota, Lexus or Scion vehicles," Schaffner wrote in an e-mail.
"As the SEFM is a widely used and highly accurate voice recognition system, we believe it would contribute to safer and more comfortable usage of vehicles for customers."
American Honda spokeswoman Alicia Jones said Siri Eyes Free would be "extensively applied" to coming Honda and Acura vehicles.
Jones declined to say when Honda planned to launch the technology but said Honda would announce more about it by year end.
Said Jones: "We think smartphones have become so integral to people's lives that they're using them in their vehicles and the challenge is to enable the benefits of these devices without contributing to visual or manual driver distraction."
Christina Rogers contributed to this report
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