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Apple just announced its new CarPlay feature, a system for converting your vehicle’s in-car entertainment system into an iOS-powered dashboard powered by your iPhone.

CarPlay Apple Maps integration.
CarPlay Apple Maps integration.

The CarPlay system was revealed earlier today during the Geneva Motor Show, where partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo all announced that they would begin shipping CarPlay-enabled vehicles to drivers this week.  Later this year the group of partners will expand to include Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Open, Peugeot-Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota.  That’s quite a lot of partners and with 15 million new cars sold globally last year, that’s a lot of people CarPlay will be available to.

SEE ALSO Video: iOS May Soon Be In Your Car

In terms of integration, CarPlay works through the iPhone’s lightning port, meaning that it’s only compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and likely future iPhone releases.  That being said, I wouldn’t expect every new car sold to have CarPlay integration built-in by default–it will likely be an add-on option for many of these manufacturers.

Once your iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri can help you access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails. When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call.  You can also use CarPlay for maps (currently only Apple Maps), music (including the music on Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Stitcher in addition to your what’s already on your iPhone), and podcasts.

Right now, apps with car-focused functionality appears to be limited to a few partners, but that will likely not be the case forever as car-focused functionality represents a huge opportunity for Apple to grow its app ecosystem.

If you are curious as to what CarPlay will function and feel like, check out this video released by Volvo (below). Also, be sure to check out Apple’s official CarPlay page.

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