Apple partners with carmakers for new Siri features

James Martin/CNET

(CBS News) Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference was a showcase for a variety of Apple products. One of the most intriguing announcements to come from WWDC 2012 was the announcement that Apple is partnering with several automakers to incorporate Siri more closely in cars. Apple's voice recognition system will come with a new "Eyes Free" feature that will allow drivers to use Siri in their cars hands- and sight-free.

Apple announced that several automakers, including BMW, General Motors, Toyota, Mercedez-Benz, Honda, and Audi will enable drivers to integrate Siri with their vehicles electronics system and access the mobile assistant using a steering wheel button.

The new button should be a welcome change for drivers who are used to manually entering their destinations into a GPS, or laboring through complicated voice-activated menu trees to perform simple tasks, like changing the radio station or placing a phone call. By leveraging Siri's natural language voice control platform, theoretically drivers will be able to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road to minimize distracted driving.

Drivers may be able to ask Siri to read or write text messages, get directions, find restaurants, play music, get the weather, and more. Apple also announced that Siri will be able to launch iPhone apps like Yelp or Facebook.

Outsourcing functions like music and direction to a compact phone could lead to less distracting dashboard displays, further reducing driving distractions.

But will voice command really reduce distraction or increase it? That's something to keep an eye on in the future. Even if the future is "Eyes Free."