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Ready For the Apple iCar?

Apple iCar

Okay, the Apple iCar is a bit of an exaggeration (although it has been said that Steve Jobs wanted to build one). But Apple is wedging themselves further into automotive integration, and this time it’s a lot more significant than just an iPod adapter.

During Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote presentation, we got a preview of a feature they are calling Eyes Free. This takes us one step further from hands-free by integrating Siri, Apple’s now-famous voice command system, directly into automobiles. With a button on the steering wheel, you will be able to activate Siri on your iPhone or iPad to give spoken commands for the full variety of voice-activated features. Siri has already offered the ability to read text messages to you, as well as answer them, all by voice command. Now you’ll be able to do so without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. This should be a better tool to stop texting while driving than a corny bumper sticker.

Apple has already lined up an impressive roster of automakers to include this feature in their vehicles. BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda have all signed on, and you can expect to see integration within 12 months.

Having dealt a blow to distracted driving, Apple’s other boon to iPhone-owning drivers was the debut of entirely new map software for iOS devices. The Google-powered app that has been standard on iPhones from the beginning will be dropped with the release of iOS 6, replaced with software Apple has developed from the ground up. Besides the coolness of vector-based 3D imaging and crowd-sourced traffic data, the real killer feature is turn-by-turn navigation.

Yup, just like a store-bought GPS, Apple’s new map software will read your upcoming turns out loud. It will even adapt to changing traffic conditions, offering quicker alternative routes. Naturally, the map software is also integrated with Siri, so you can simply ask for directions. Expect sales of Rolaids and bourbon to rise sharply in the vicinity of Garmin and TomTom headquarters. [UPDATE: TomTom is involved in the new maps. More Rolaids and bourbon for Garmin, please!]

Apple iOS 6 is expected to be available sometime in the fall.