Honda adds Eyes Free Siri to Accord, Acura RDX and ILX

Honda is the latest automaker to add Eyes Free Siri to its cars, a feature that pairs your iPhone to steering wheel-button access to Apple's Siri functions via your phone. The Japanese company said Wednesday that it plans to integrate Apple’s hands-free assistant into the 2013 Honda Accord and the Acura RDX and ILX models as a dealer-installed option.

With Eyes Free Siri, Honda and Acura drivers will be able to perform Siri-operated voice tasks, such as calling a friend, writing a text message, or finding directions, without having to look at their iPhone. The cars will have a special Siri button on the steering wheel that drivers can press to make a Siri command, and Eyes Free Siri will prevent the phone from lighting up (turning on the screen) to minimize distractions. The phone will connect through Honda’s HandsFreeLink setup using Bluetooth.

Eyes Free Siri does require an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS 6 or later. It also needs an active Internet or cellular data connection to work—it’s just like using Siri on your phone (the system needs to send questions to the cloud and bring back answers), but it’s in your car. So if you have an iPod Touch or an iPad without a data connection, you’ll need some other source of Wi-Fi to use Eyes Free Siri in your car.

When Apple announced Eyes Free Siri back in June, it also announced that nine automakers were already on board with the new in-vehicle mode, including BMW, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Honda, and Chrysler. GM showed off its Chevrolet Spark and Sonic cars at CES this year, both of which are small, entry-level cars targeted at younger drivers.

Basically, Honda is the latest automaker to decide that you’re going to use your iPhone while you’re driving anyway, so they might as well try to make it safe.

“iPhone has become so integral to people’s lives that they continue to use them in their vehicles,” Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of automobile product planning at Honda said in a statement. “Offering Honda and Acura owners Siri and its Eyes Free mode via Bluetooth is an incredible opportunity to provide next-generation connectivity and meet our customer’s ever-changing needs.”

Of course, the real question is when Honda will add Eyes Free Siri integration to its lower-level vehicles, such as the Civic and the CR-Z. After all, it’s the younger crowd that’s mostly interested in high-tech hookups, which is why Chevy introduced the feature in its Spark and Sonic models.

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