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Apple's iCar Has Arrived & It Sounds Cool

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Apple has revealed in the past that it plans to enter the auto “infotainment” space and dubbed its efforts as “iOS in the car” at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, 2013.

On Monday, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) premiered its new CarPlay feature at the Geneva Motor Show. Users control CarPlay from their car's native interface or through voice control. Once an iPhone is connected to a vehicle, the familiar voice of Siri will pop to life and give users the ability to get directions, make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music while staying focused on the road.

Volvo is among the first companies to support CarPlay, along with Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari. Volvo released a video on Monday showing a touchscreen-based interface that not only synchs contact details, media and maps with a user's iPhone but can be used to control features of the car such as temperature. CarPlay integration will initially require a Lightning cable, though Volvo hinted that Wi-Fi support will be available in the “near feature.”

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” Apple VP Greg Joswiak said in a statement. “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.”

Wells Fargo: More than meets the eyes

Maynard Um, senior Analyst at Wells Fargo believes that CarPlay is more than just a gimmick to “lock-in” iPhone sales. In a note to clients on Monday, Um believes the “more significant” feature of CarPlay is its artificial-intelligence-like or “contextual awareness technology” which could play a vital role in differentiating Apple's products from its competitors.

According to Um, CarPlay will be able to collect data from recent trips in Maps and decipher texts, e-mails and contacts to anticipate destinations. Having this capability will provide a “great convenience” as users are likely to receive information they want and need pushed to them rather than having to search for it.

The in car technology is still in its early stages and competition includes other technology powerhouses such as BlackBerry's QNX which is already integrated in to cars. As such, competition will only “intensify” from here. Um has a Market Perform rating on Apple shares with a price target range of $505 to $575 which is based on a 12-13x CY2014 EPS estimate.

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