Mercedes-Benz is making Apple the core of the A-Class' infotainment system by integrating iPhone applications and functionality--namely Siri--with its electronics system.
The Drive Kit Plus integrates the iPhone with the vehicle's electronics platform. It works in concert with Mercedes-Benz' Digital DriveStyle App to display iPhone applications on the infotainment system screen and let the user access the app using vehicle controls or voice commands.
What applications the users can integrate and control will be up to Mercedes-Benz. The free app will add Twitter, Facebook, and Aupeo Personal Radio (which is like Pandora for Europe) to the vehicle's infotainment system. The Digital DriveStyle app also adds Garmin navigation, which seems to replace CD- or DVD-based systems.
Using the vehicle's controller dial on the center console, the driver will be able to select and change music stations, update statuses, and send messages in apps. The driver will also have the option to use Siri to do his or her bidding. Siri is the iPhone's cloud-based voice-recognition feature on the iPhone 4 that lets users speak natural language commands to perform some tasks.
Mercedes-Benz could be the first manufacturer to integrate this feature with the vehicle's electronics platform, which means that users will be able to use Siri rather than memorize a set of commands to make phone calls or choose music. Natural language commands should make it easier for the driver to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while accessing iPhone-based media and features.
The new system will debut in the Mercedes A-Class at the 2012 Geneva auto show next month, and is also planned to be available this fall in the B-, C-, and E-Class in Europe. Mercedes-Benz has not said when the iPhone integration will make it to U.S. versions of the vehicles.