• "iPod Out" Mode = Apple Car Kit?

    A closer look at the pre-release beta of iPhone OS 4.0 has uncovered a hidden application that apparently pushes the iPod interface to a car stereo via a video connection. Hints were found by a reader of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in strings within the application's code - like "IAPSSimpleRemoteCarButtonNotification" - of a possible indication that Apple is working on its own car audio integration kit. Though third-party kits have existed for some time, it appears that this Apple-branded application will send iPhone OS menus and even apps to compatible in-dash displays, and allow for voice control where supported.

    Last year, Patently Apple revealed an Apple patent application for a method to control the GUI of car entertainment systems. The technology covered by this patent would figure out the capabilities of the system's display and be able to push the user interface to that system accordingly. A system with a full graphic display would presumably get a full iPhone screen, with touch capability if supported, while a lower-res display might be limited to just menus and basic selection controls. Very high-end systems would be able to control apps like Voice Memo, Maps, iCal, and even play back movies.

    It's unclear to what extent this technology will play a role in the new application. Initial indications are that the Apple car kit will use the iPod Accessory Protocol to send control signals to a car's entertainment system. Not only would the link support playing a user's iPod music library over the car's sound system, but it would apparently also allow the same control menus to be used to play content that was stored on the car stereo.

    Other hints in the application point to a hands-free phone navigation system that would presumably allow incoming calls to be pushed to the car's speaker system and allow the driver to answer the call without picking up the iPhone.

    TUAW's tipster also sent along the video below purporting to show the menu system in action:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbco58GnS9c]YouTube - iPodOut.mov[/ame]
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