As Scott Forstall rattled off a list of Siri’s new capabilities in iOS 6, there was one particular feature that really stood out: Eyes Free. Apple will be teaming up with auto-makers to take its digital assistant act on the road.
But outside of a list of manufacturing partners, and a brief explanation of how Eyes Free will work, not much else has been said about the new feature. How will it be implemented? And when can we expect to see it?
The folks over at Car and Driver decided to go straight to the source to get some answers. The popular auto magazine talked to engineers from both Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz to get the low-down on Eyes Free.
“It’s important to first point out that Siri is a software change, both for the car and the phone, and not one that affects hardware—existing voice-command buttons will be used to access the system through a Bluetooth connection. According to an engineer we spoke to, Apple’s software development includes a refinement in how Siri deals with high amounts of background noise—the in-car’s single mic can pick up road, wind, and engine noise that makes it difficult for Siri to comprehend command. Apple has somehow solved the problem with the iOS 6 changes that go along with Eyes Free.”
Once an iPhone is paired with a vehicle, users will be able to activate Eyes Free by holding down or double-tapping the car’s built-in voice command button. The activation method will differ slightly from the system’s default, so users can still access the stock voice commands.
Apple says we can expect Eyes Free to hit the market sometime within the next 12 months. But both Chevy and Mercedes seem pretty intent on having Siri-friendly vehicles out by the end of this year.
It may not seem like it yet, but this is a pretty big deal for Apple. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.
What do you think? Will Eyes Free be a hit?