Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote is winding down as you read this, and while many car enthusiasts could care less about the next version of iOS or the MacBook Pro's new Retina Display, they will probably care about one piece of news just delivered by Apple's VP of iOS Software, Scott Forstall: Apple is going to add a new button to your car.

Called Eyes Free, it's basically just a steering wheel-mounted button that will activate Siri on the iPhone or iPad (yes, they announced Siri is coming to the new iPad, too) you have with you in the car. Likely paired over Bluetooth, Eyes Free will let you talk to Siri through the car, giving you access to a wealth of information without using both your eyes and hands (except for that initial button press). And since this is Apple, automakers are apparently lining up to add Siri buttons to their steering wheels. Apple reports that BMW, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda are all signed up to start offering Eyes Free within the next 12 months.

We find it curious that GM has chosen to participate, considering that what Siri offers is not at all unlike what the automaker's subscription-based OnStar service provides. Conspicuously missing from the list of on-board automakers is Ford, whose Sync infotainment systems are all based on Microsoft-branded technology.


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  • 83 Comments
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Awesome.
      atltv
      • 2 Years Ago
      How about better gas mileage rather than more electronic gimmicks. Boy oh boy have the car makers lost any sense of reality and meaningful improvements for the population
        ruth
        • 2 Years Ago
        @atltv
        Consumers drive this stuff. There has been many high gas mileage cars in history. Ford Escort, Geo Metro, Ford Festiva, Yugo People dont want cars that get good gas mileage. They want their big luxurious land yachts to get good mileage. You change the market by changing the behavior and attitudes then let consumer demands change the product/market.
      Sox05
      • 2 Years Ago
      Apple is DA BEST!
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Ian Kennedy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Um. I can do this now. With an Apple device or Android. Don't get it. Hit button, punch through to phone, talk. How is this new? Oh wait. it's Apple. that makes it "delightful and amazing."
      xmailboxcancerx
      • 2 Years Ago
      Coupl'a things: (1) iPhone/iPad users can now use Siri on their device(s) to help them read and write text messages, emails, notifications, call phone numbers, get turn-by-turn directions, play music from their iTunes library or initiate Spotify/Pandora, and a ton of other things ... all while leaving their iPhone in their pocket and their iPad in its case or bag. That's huge, and will surely prove to be an incredibly cool little feature. (2) If you're complaintive about having a Droid, Windows phone, or some other non-iOS device and don't want a dead button on your dash or steering wheel, get over yourself. You and I know both know that there are at least one or two dash buttons that you have never, ever, ever used. (3) It would be fantastic for Belkin or similar company to come out with a "Eyes Free" button that you add to the car somewhere that looks as OEM as possible, all for those older cars without this great feature.
        Synthono
        • 2 Years Ago
        @xmailboxcancerx
        I can say with confidence I've pressed every single button on my dashboard at least once. Most I've used more than that. I can also understand why people don't want to pay for Apple's crap.
        AndrewH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @xmailboxcancerx
        Nope, you're absolutely wrong. I have used every single button on my dash, steering wheel, in the glove box, speakerphone, etc, without exception. And I don't want a dead, useless button. It seems like the obvious solution is to make it an open-standards feature, compatible with any modern smartphone and with assignable capabilities. It can activate Siri or anything else a smartphone can do. How about that? Even more people win that way!
        Quentin
        • 2 Years Ago
        @xmailboxcancerx
        Yeah, using an empty slot on the dash panel to trigger the Eyes Free would be something I'd be down for. Since my 4Runner already has pretty good bluetooth integration (previous and next track work on the steering wheel buttons), having a Siri button would be the icing on the cake. Good stuff. I like that the phone doesn't light up to entice you to take your eyes off the road.
      straferhoo
      • 2 Years Ago
      That "If Microsoft made cars" joke doesn't seem like a joke anymore. 1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day. 2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car. 3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on. 4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine. 5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT." But then you would have to buy more seats. 6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads. 7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light. 8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt. 9. The airbag system would say "Are you sure?" before going off. 10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna. 11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department. 12. Everytime GM introduced a new model car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car. 13. You'd press the "start" button to shut off the engine.
        xmailboxcancerx
        • 2 Years Ago
        @straferhoo
        I'm not the biggest Microsoft fan either, but I'm not sure this is a situation where I'm baited to write a list of REALLY milquetoast punchlines that bash the company's products.
        RTHKI
        • 2 Years Ago
        @straferhoo
        so wrong and boring
        Greg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @straferhoo
        I always think of that joke when I see MyFord Touch
        Synthono
        • 2 Years Ago
        @straferhoo
        You do press the start button to shut off the engine, at least in most stuff that uses keyless go. Otherwise this seems like a list written by someone who hasn't used a Microsoft product since 1996.
          merlot066
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Synthono
          Well this joke (if you can even call it that) was first published in like 1995 so you're pretty much right.
      gregmlr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great, another useless button just like the Netflix button on my TV remote.
      intellerv
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do not want. but what is STUPID, is that I can already do this with my phone TODAY because it supports open bluetooth standards. DO NOT support proprietary crap.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      so for the majority of smart phone users who arent locked into the apple ecosystem, you will have a dead button that does nothing on your steering wheel? Sync works great, why would I want to tie myself into just one type of phone and require a data connection. so stupid. Im so glad Ford, Mazda, Subaru and Kia arent on that list. Those are the only brands with interesting products to me right now. what needs to happen is a new bluetooth spec /profile with smartphone control standards.
        xmailboxcancerx
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        It's smart, that's what it is. Partnerships are powerful. Here you have about 1 in 5 smartphone users who are "locked into the apple ecosystem" who now have an extra perk to consider when selecting a new car, and then another group of people who purchase a vehicle that has a very trick, safety-minded feature that boasts truly seamless integration (further persuading them to purchase an apple device). If you fall into neither category, you could always just ignore the button that does nothing for your device ... something so wrong with that?
      Bjorn
      • 2 Years Ago
      please, no more unnecessary buttons
      LEDfoot
      • 2 Years Ago
      I do NOT want a proprietary apple button in my car!
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