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Screenshot from Apple's website

Screenshot from <a href="">Apple’s website</a>

Update: Volvo has posted a CarPlay experience video.

Apple has officially announced CarPlay in a press release. CarPlay is Apple’s new branding for the iOS in the Car feature originally announced at WWDC last year. Apple says CarPlay enables users to make calls, navigate maps, listen to music and access messages from the dash of compatible cars. Siri can be activated by pressing the dedicated button on the steering wheel. Apple describes the system as a “smarter, safer and more fun way” of using an iPhone in the car.

As previously reported, CarPlay will be demoed in cars by Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo this week with the cars going on sale later in the year. Apple says many manufacturers are onboard, including BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota. Apple has also a launched a new section of its website to describe the various features of CarPlay.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.31.29

The interface reflects the design shown in these leaks from January, with the home button controls spanning the left side of the display. The home screen looks almost identical to the home screen of an iOS device, with roundrect app icons arranged in a grid. CarPlay is available for all iOS 7 phones (after an update, presumably 7.1) with a Lightning connector.

In the press release, Greg Joswiak said that Apple created CarPlay to give iOS users an incredible experience in their car.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”

Interestingly, the press release says that whilst maps, messages and phone integration is limited to Apple’s own apps and services, music controls will work with “select third-party audio apps”, such as Spotify and iHeart Radio.

On its site, Apple also calls out Beats Radio and Stitcher in addition to its own Podcasts app as having supporting for CarPlay. Apple says that more supported apps are ‘coming soon’ — it is unclear whether this integration can be used by all developers through an API or whether you need special agreements with Apple to make it happen.

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Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.