For a company with a long history of hits, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has two rather prominent tarnishes on its record in recent years: Siri and Maps. Siri has mostly not lived up to its full revolutionary potential and has been relegated to little more than a novelty feature. Apple's mapping missteps are also well documented, and Tim Cook has directly apologized over the service's shortfalls.
Would you give a ride to both Siri and Maps?
We need a lift
That's what Apple may be betting on in the next version of iOS, according to 9to5Mac's well-placed sources. The Mac maker is reportedly looking to "aggressively" push into car integration with the two services in iOS 7, which will be unveiled in June.
Apple is collaborating with numerous automakers to add center consoles that an iDevice could attach to, which would provide a redesigned Apple Maps in lieu of current proprietary GPS systems.
Recent events also lend to the idea that Apple wants more of a presence in automobiles. General Motors (NYSE:GM) has partnered with Apple to integrate Siri's Eyes Free feature in the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic. Volkswagen recently unveiled an iBeetle that integrates directly with iPhones after collaborating with Apple. Honda Motors (NYSE:HMC) is also adding Eyes Free to models in its 2013 lineup of Hondas and Acuras. Automakers benefit by adding a complementary selling feature that appeals to Apple's large installed base.
It's also worth noting that as part of Apple's executive shakeup late last year, Siri and Maps were both rolled under the jurisdiction of online services exec Eddy Cue. Scott Forstall took the blame for both fumbles, and Cue is known as a man who fixes things. Cue also happens to be a car enthusiast and joined Ferrari's board of directors late last year.
Both Siri and Maps are only going to get better before. Apple has little choice but to bolster Siri's capabilities, especially with Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) launching Now on iOS this week. Now has been praised as what Siri should have been, and bringing the rival virtual assistant to iOS will put some pressure on Apple to up Siri's game.
In fact, Now will reach more iOS users than it does Android users. Only 25% of Android devices use Jelly Bean, which includes Now, while Now will be available on all iDevices on iOS 5 or later, which includes all iPhones sold since 2009.
Apple's also been hiring mapping engineers to beef up its map making prowess. It may never catch up to Google's defining service, but there's still plenty of work needed to get Apple Maps competitive.
Siri and Maps may have been big mistakes thus far, but there are worse backseat drivers.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, General Motors, and Google and owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.