Mini Connected brings together Mini Cooper, iPhone

If there's any one gadget that seems to match the style and personality of Mini cars, it would have to be the iPhone. And as luck would have it, they're getting together in a new venture called "Mini Connected," integrating Apple's smartphone into Mini's new Countryman vehicle.

Some people would say that a Mini Cooper is more of a "lifestyle" car, representing a more youthful and modern driver. (I once heard this about the Fiat 500 too.)

If there's any one gadget that seems to match the style and personality of Mini's cars, it would have to be the iPhone. And as luck would have it, they're getting together in a new venture called "Mini Connected," integrating Apple's smartphone into Mini's new Countryman vehicle.

Set to zoom into the Geneva Auto Show next week, the slightly larger Mini vehicle (there are four doors!) will come equipped with the Mini Connected system. CNET is now dubbing the Countryman as the "iCar." Cute.

The system, with the menu displayed at the center of the speedometer, gets access to Internet radio stations worldwide through the iPhone's data connection via USB cable. Mini Connected also updates the screen with other data, like weather and traffic conditions.

Digital interfaces are becoming quite the trend among auto manufacturers, and they're certainly drawing attention and criticism. Ford's upcoming MyFord Touch system has a lot of people worried about how focused drivers will be on the road if they're playing around with settings on a touchscreen. It's not clear if Mini's system is a touchscreen, or managed by buttons on the dashboard or by the iPhone itself.

How do you feel about digital screens and set-ups taking over cars this year? Will they be more helpful to the driver, or just a distraction that could lead to more accidents?

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