Apple and BMW have unveiled an adaptor that connects an iPod to BMW and Mini car-stereos.

The iPod connects to a cable in the glove compartment, and is powered by the car rather than the iPod's battery. Drivers can shuffle songs, skip between tracks and adjust volume via steering-wheel controls.

Although Smart unveiled an iPod-equipped car last year, Apple claims the BMW device is the "first time that an adaptor had been specifically designed to integrate the player with the existing audio controls of a particular car model".

Apple CEO Steve Jobs told Reuters: "This is the first really big step that's been taken to marry iPod to automobiles. And there will be other steps."

Jobs spoke of plans to integrate the iPod into car stereos at the London launch of iTunes. The agreement between BMW and Apple is not exclusive, leaving Apple free to collaborate with other car makers.

Jobs told Reuters: "The cars that are being served now are the cars that a lot of young, hip people buy. It's right in the sweet spot of where the iPod is."

The adaptor will work in BMW's 3 Series, Z4 Roadster, X3 and X5 SUVs, and the Mini Cooper. BMW chief executive Tom Purves told Reuters that BMW will make the BMW iPod Adaptor compatible with the rest of its product line.

The BMW iPod Adapter costs $149 plus installation. It must be installed by authorized BMW and Mini centres. It will be available in the US from July 12. Macworld is awaiting confirmation of availability and pricing in the UK.

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