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Audi announces support for Apple's CarPlay in 2015 models

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German automaker Audi — a founding member of Google's Android-based Open Automotive Alliance — on Thursday announced that it has undertaken "intensive dialog" with Apple to integrate the iPhone maker's CarPlay system into new vehicles beginning in 2015.

Audi, which until now did not have a publicly-disclosed relationship with Apple, says it has worked to separate the vehicular and entertainment functions of its in-car system and will add both CarPlay and Android Auto to future releases. Consumers will be able to choose between the platforms "at any time."

"Our customers want to be 'always on' and use the services they know from their smartphones in cars as well," Audi board member Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg said in a release. "In this regard, we are working closely with leading companies like Google and Apple. In the future, customers will be able to use the functions available to them on their smartphones via the operating systems in their cars as well."

Audi's Silicon Valley development lab has been working with Apple to complete the integration. At press time, Apple had not yet added Audi's famous rings to the official partners list.

As the mobile device market matures, cars are becoming an increasingly important battlefield for manufacturers seeking to differentiate their ecosystems.

Apple unveiled CarPlay, née iOS in the Car, at last year's Worldwide Developers Conference with a wide-ranging line of partners from Ferrari to Kia. The initiative gained steam at this year's Geneva Motor Show when models from Ferrari, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz were revealed as the first to sport the new system in 2014.

Google, meanwhile, introduced the Open Automotive Alliance with Audi, GM, and Hyundai earlier this year and showed off the first version of Android Auto at this week's I/O conference in San Francisco.