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The Lowdown on Apple CarPlay

The iOS 7 update includes a new feature called CarPlay. Here's what it is, how to use it, and why you should be concerned.
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The iOS 7 iPhone upgrade comes with a neat little feature called CarPlay. It sounds pretty basic: Simply connect your CarPlay-enabled iPhone (currently only available on 5, 5s, and 5c) to a CarPlay-enabled vehicle. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo are the first to release CarPlay-enabled lines, with brands like Nissan, BMW, and General Motors promising more CarPlay vehicles soon. The list of features, according to HuffPo, is pretty astounding. They include: entertainment (radio, audio, video, games), access to the vehicle (seats, mirrors, heat, door locks, trunk), plus social media and e-mail, and more.

It all sounds pretty great, but already some car safety activists are up in arms.

"We're very, very concerned about it," David Teater, senior director at the nonprofit National Safety Council, told CNN. "The auto industry and the consumer-electronics industry are really in an arms race to see how we can enable drivers to do stuff other than driving."

Indeed, talking on the phone (even hands-free) while driving causes a "cognitive distraction" that many are worried about. According to CNN, researchers at the University of Utah said last year that talking on a hand-held phone is only slightly more distracting than talking on a hands-free phone, with both deemed a "moderate" risk. Voice-to-text applications like Siri were even more distracting, deemed an "extensive" risk. Cell phone use is a leading contributor to "distracted driving" accidents, which killed 3,328 people and injured 421,000 in 2012.


Either way, we'll be looking to see how Google comes back at Apple's car-centric upgrade. They've already announced a partnership with Audi to bring Android to the car.

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