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Two iconic products will be forming an alliance later this year: the iPhone from Apple and the Beetle from Volkswagen. As a result, the smartphone will interface with the Beetle and Beetle Cabriolet’s vehicle functions via a specially developed app (‘Volkswagen Car Net The Beetle’) and a docking station.  This makes the Beetle the first model in the Volkswagen Group in which the iPhone will become an integrated component.

Volkswagen iBeetle

There are two routes to acquiring the interface: first as an optional feature, and second as a standard feature on the new iBeetle and iBeetle Cabriolet.  The German carmaker will be launching these special models on the market in parallel with the iPhone 5 integration at the beginning of 2014.  The app, docking station and iBeetle will celebrate their world premiere at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show (20th to 29th of April).

The interface

Located centrally on the dashboard of the Beetle is the newly designed docking station (cradle), in which the iPhone is integrated by simply snapping it in – similar to a mobile navigation system. Once in, essentially, all iPhone functions can be used in the Beetle; the iPhone can be used to navigate, telephone via a hands-free unit, listen to music from the media library via the audio system’s amplifier and loudspeakers, and much more.

The Beetle app

When the app is launched, it can either connect the iPhone to the Beetle docked or undocked.  As soon as the iPhone connects to the Beetle’s data network via the app and the docking station (docked), a menu with the following functions is available: “Spotify”, “Expert”, “Trainer”, “Reader”, “Postcard”, “Photo”, “Post” and “Milestones”.

“Spotify” lets users stream media such as new songs, customised playlists or online radio stations directly to the iPhone and from there into the sound system of the Beetle.  Those who wish can post their favourite music directly to friends.  In addition, users in the Beetle can switch between “Spotify” and iTunes at any time.

Under the “Expert” menu, the app offers five functions which make the iPhone an extended on-board instrument.  Offered here are a G-Meter (for measuring transverse acceleration), oil and coolant temperature gauges for the engine, a chronometer and a compass.

The “Trainer” can be used to compare driving times, distances and fuel economy values for different routes between any two destinations.  Here too, tips can be posted via social networks like Twitter and Facebook – such as which route leads quicker to the university or to a work destination.

The (social) “Reader” lists the latest messages from social networks like Facebook.  There is also a practical function for having iPhone messages read aloud here.

Another communication function is offered by “Postcard”.  In response to a touchscreen command, the app sends the current location of the Beetle to friends as a digital postcard with a map motif and sender identification: “Sent with the Beetle App”.

A photo can be taken from the interior of the Beetle by iPhone camera and sent to social networks with the “Photo” function. Simply activate it, and the app does the rest.

In the “undocked” mode, the “Milestones” menu is available. Here the app rewards its users with virtual ‘milestone stickers’ for the Beetle when certain tasks have been completed.  This is how the app guides users through the range of possible applications.

The iBeetle

Volkswagen conceived the iBeetle for the debut of iPhone 5 integration and, available as a coupe and cabriolet, it is one of the first cars in the world to have a genuine integrative interface for the iPhone that was coordinated with Apple.  The colours and equipment features of the iBeetle are stylistically linked to the Cupertino-based US company, bringing the icons of its smartphones into harmony with what is certainly one of the world’s most iconic automotive designs.

The iBeetle, which will be available at the beginning of 2014 (advance sales begin in October 2013), will not just be delivered to its owners with the standard iPhone interface, but with other customised features as well.  On the exterior, they include standard features such as 18-inch “Disc” alloy wheels (painted in “Galvano Grey” with chrome wheel covers), door mirror housings and side trim panels in “Galvano Grey”, black door sill plates with “iBeetle” signature, “iBeetle” chrome badges and a “Chrome pack” (includes chrome trim strips on the sides).  The iBeetle can be ordered in “Candy White”, “Oryx White Mother of Pearl Effect”, “Black Monochrome”, “Deep Black Pearl Effect”, “Platinum Grey” or “Reflex Silver”.

Inside, the steering wheel accents are in “Galvano Grey”.  This colour is also used for the horizontal instrument pad which is such a key Beetle design feature.  The iBeetle is also upgraded by a customised gear shift grip, black sport seats in exclusive “Vienna” leather and contrasting seams in light “Ceramique”.

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