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Watch this: Apple's CarPlay running in a Volvo concept car

Watch this: Apple's CarPlay running in a Volvo concept car

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Apple unveiled CarPlay, its in-car iOS dashboard, to the world on Monday, and today one of its first auto partners is giving the world a closer look at how it'll work. In a video for Volvo, an Apple representative showcases what it looks like when an iPhone is used to take over the dashboard of Volvo's Concept ES. The dashboard defaults to an iOS-like home screen displaying a grid of apps — primarily a phone's basic functions, including calling and messages, but also a couple popular services like Spotify.

Messages is almost completely reliant on voice control

Despite being redesigned for a car's dashboard, many of the apps aren't so different from how they already look. Apps largely appear as squashed versions of how they are on the iPhone, each scaled larger so that content will be easier to read at a glance. The only app that's particularly different is messages, which for some reason is the only app shown for which Apple has made the interface almost entirely reliant on voice control.

The aim is, naturally, to keep drivers' eyes on the road: rather than displaying messages, it appears that messages can only be read by Siri. Even when you dictate a message, Siri will read it back to you without displaying the text. It'll certainly prevent drivers from reading through their text message history when they shouldn't, but it's somewhat strange that this appears to be the sole app that Apple has designed this way.

Because most apps haven't seen a design change, using them on a car's dashboard should be fairly intuitive for anyone who's already familiar with iOS. Actually controlling the interface isn't necessarily quite as smooth though: CarPlay is still running on hardware installed by a car's manufacturer, and in this demo, it isn't as fast and responsive as a modern smartphone or tablet. Apps take a moment to launch, and quick scrolling occasionally caused Volvo's display to stutter. Still, it's easily among the most useful in-car systems out there — and it's a sign of how quickly they may begin changing now that mobile operating systems are working their way into vehicles.

CarPlay is will be supported in cars this year by Volvo, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Jaguar. A number of other car manufacturers have committed to adding support down the road as well, including Ford, Toyota, and Nissan.