VW integrates iPhone with new iBeetle

At Auto China 2013 next week, Volkswagen will show off a new iPhone app to be used with its Beetle model, along with a new dock that puts the iPhone at the top of the dashboard.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Volkswagen iBeetle
Volkswagen's iBeetle includes a dock for the iPhone at the top of the dashboard. Volkswagen

Old rumors about Volkswagen and Apple collaborating on an iCar will come the closest ever to realization next week, when Volkswagen unveils its iBeetle at Auto China 2013 in Shanghai. The iBeetle announcement consists of a special-edition Beetle, a new iPhone dock, and a Volkswagen iPhone app.

The special-edition Beetle, coming out next year, will feature color schemes inspired by the iPhone. Available in hardtop or convertible form, it will also come with unique wheels.

An iPhone dock in the iBeetle sits at the center top of the dashboard. Volkswagen writes in a press release that "all iPhone functions can be used in the Beetle; the iPhone can be used to navigate, make calls hands-free, listen to music, and much more." However, it seems from the photos that using all these iPhone functions has more to do with the placement of the dock than any new integration, beyond current Bluetooth and music playback, with the Beetle's cabin electronics.

The most salient news concerns a new Volkswagen iPhone app, which should feature integration with the Beetle such that drivers can use the car's interface to control its functions. This app includes Spotify for streaming music, the option to read out Facebook updates and incoming texts, and a Postcard feature that lets drivers send their current location with a map graphic to friends.

The app includes useful driving functions, such as a feature that lets drivers compare different commute routes, the app storing real-time information as each route is driven, to find which is fastest. The app also gathers information from the car, such as coolant and oil temperature, and shows a G-meter.

The iBeetle will be unveiled in China, but the popularity of the iPhone worldwide and global sales of the Beetle model make it seem likely the car will be sold, and the app will be available, in other markets.