Apple, Volkswagen team on iOS-integrated iBeetle

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Volkswagen are collaborating on a new iOS-based user interface that will roll out via the iBeetle model line, scheduled to make its worldwide debut at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, taking place this week.

The iBeetle line, which includes both a standard coupe and convertible VW Beetle, includes an iPhone docking station located on the vehicle dashboard as well as Bluetooth support. Once the iPhone is connected, motorists can access a specially-developed iBeetle application bundling other apps including Spotify streaming radio, Reader (which presents audio versions of text messages and social media updates), Expert (which measures lateral acceleration, oil and coolant temperatures, and other vehicular metrics), Trainer (which compares driving times, distances and fuel economy values) and Postcard (which sends the car's current location to select contacts).

Volkswagen coordinated the iBeetle interface with Apple engineers. In addition, both iBeetle models will take aesthetic cues from Apple hardware, favoring minimalist exterior designs and interior accents as well as available colors including Candy White, Oryx White Mother of Pearl Effect, Black Monochrome, Deep Black Pearl Effect, Platinum Grey and Reflex Silver. The vehicles will go on sale in early 2014; pricing has not been announced.

Late last year, General Motors integrated Apple's Siri voice assistant technology into its vehicles, enhancing its Chevrolet MyLink in-car infotainment system to offer drivers a hands-free option for accessing mobile communication and multimedia services. After initiating a Siri session using the steering wheel voice activation button, drivers can make voice-activated, hands-free phone calls to contacts stored on their phone, play music from their iTunes library, compose or listen to iMessages and text messages and access or add Calendar appointments.

In a move to further minimize driver distraction, GM also introduced an eyes-free mode that prevents the iPhone screen from illuminating when Siri responds to motorist questions. In addition, Siri will not respond to complex queries that require displaying web pages.

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