03/03/2014 02:33 EST | Updated 05/03/2014 05:59 EDT

Apple's CarPlay embeds iPhone voice, touch controls in cars

Drivers of most major car brands will soon be able to access iPhone calls, messages, music and maps, through touch and voice controls embedded in their steering wheel and dashboard.

Apple announced Monday that the CarPlay feature will be premiering in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles this week at the Geneva International Motor Show. It will be coming "down the road" to vehicles from 13 other manufacturers.

The feature connects iPhone 5 or later running iOS 7 to the car via Apple's Lightning connector. Once the phone is connected, users can tap into it via built-in controls on the dashboard or by pushing and holding a voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri, Apple's virtual assistant.

"IPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice-president of iPhone and iOS product marketing in a statement.

CarPlay features include the ability to anticipate destinations and provide directions based on recent trips, emails or texts, Apple said.

Volvo said its first car to offer CarPlay will be the new XC90 SUV, which will be introduced later in 2014, and is designed with a large iPad-style portrait-oriented touch screen in the dashboard.

Apple first announced at its Worldwide Developers conference in 2012 that it was expanding Siri to cars, starting with Honda, Toyota and GM.

The rollout of CarPlay includes those manufacturers, the three CarPlay launch partners, and BMW Group, Ford, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Subaru and Suzuki.

Cars are increasingly featuring built-in multimedia displays, which manufacturers say are popular with consumers.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have been trying to crack down on drivers distracted by electronic devices such as smartphones. Most jurisdictions now allow only hands-free operation of phones, providing motivation for manufacturers such as Apple to find new ways of providing drivers with access to their devices.

However, recent studies suggests that drivers are distracted even by hands-free calling.