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BMW first in line with Apple iPhone integration - report

The race amongst auto manufacturers to integrate Apple Inc.'s upcoming iPhone device within their automobiles is apparently on, with one report signaling out BMW as the current frontrunner.

According to a blurb published by AutoSpies this week, the German auto maker will be the first to announce multi-level connectivity with the Apple device in an upcoming version of its high-end 7-Series sedan.

The otherwise unenlightening report offers readers no additional detail aside from mentioning that the rumored integration will go beyond "just Bluetooth."

Therefore it's unclear whether BMW would be ready to announce the feature alongside its updated 2008 7-Series models later this summer, or if it plans to wait until the following year.

In 2009, the auto maker is expected to introduced a refined 7-Series model with a toned-down look and front end styling similar to the current 6-Series models. The new model will also reportedly add an option for an eight-speed automatic transmission.

BMW was the first major auto maker to team with Apple on seamless integration between iPods and a car audio systems back in 2004, when it unveiled a car battery-powed iPod hookup that tucked the players safely in the glove compartment.

The solution, which was revealed exclusively by AppleInsider, introduced a way for drivers to enjoy high fidelity sound through their car's stereo system while controlling their iPod using buttons on the BMW steering wheel.