Anyone who's watched TV recently is probably somewhat familiar with those adorably whimsical Apple commercials featuring a cross section of Hollywood stars that includes John Malkovich, Zooey Deschanel and Samuel L. Jackson shooting the breeze with Siri, the latest bell and whistle added to the company's fleet of smartphones. Yet with the exception of a quick spot with famed director Martin Scorsese chatting up his iPhone in the back of a taxi, most of the ads show Siri and the stars having a ball in the comfort of their homes.
According to recent news from the auto industry, however, Siri appears to be ready to take her show on the road. Carmakers like Mercedes, GM, Ford and BMW are among those reportedly working with Apple to bring Siri behind the wheel -- where she can provide turn-by-turn directions, make calls and select music [sources: Roy, Woodyard].
Those readers not among the legions of Mac and iPad-toting Apple devotees may ask: Who is this Siri, and why do I want "her" in my car?
Siri is the Steve Jobs-given name for voice-activated technology currently available in Apple 4S and 5 iPhones. She allows users to access the full range of smartphone capabilities -- from sending text messages, scheduling meetings and checking the weather to more dated, pedestrian functions like actually making a phone call -- by simply speaking into the phone [source: Apple].
Siri can also answer a slew of questions -- Why is the sky blue? How old is William H. Macy? What's traffic looking like? -- by scanning the Internet and apps for responses to these and other queries. Her dictation capacity extends to non-Apple, third-party apps, meaning users can rely on Siri to update their Facebook status, tweet or send Instagrams.
Just how she'll look as a passenger in car and what she'll be able to do are questions that remain to be answered. "I don't have an opinion on that," one version of the smart little lady recently said in response to a query from the author.
Fortunately, some of the world's biggest auto manufacturers have been less tight-lipped about their plans for integrating the technology into cars, trucks and vans. Read on for a peek at how Siri is getting set to change the way we drive.