General Motors announced Tuesday that it plans to develop smartphone integration for its new vehicles using its existing OnStar driver assistance network.
The new system is aimed to compete with Ford’s SYNC system and Mercedes Benz’s smartphone integration. Unlike Ford, GM will be developing the apps for its cars itself, rather than relying on third-party developers.
GM’s new system will initially focus on phones using Google’s Android operating system, like the Motorola Droid and HTC Droid Incredible.
“We want to make smartphones work seamless with the connectivity of OnStar,” explained Chris Preuss, president of OnStar. Mr. Preuss also emphasized that OnStar wanted to ensure the safety of such new smartphone applications and believed that the best way to do that was to develop the software themselves.
The first vehicle out of the gate to connect with Android applications will the coming hybrid Chevrolet Volt.
The system will first focus on advanced navigation features that use Google’s voice-based search, mapping and routing functions. There will also be a “find my car” function for drivers lost in parking lots.
Once the car is in motion, drivers will not be able to use the smartphone to change settings in the car — a safety feature, according to Mr. Preuss.
To request a new destination, for example, drivers should push the blue OnStar button to have an agent send the directions to the car. He sees this as offering the best of both worlds, while minimizing potential driver distractions.
While Android is the only supported OS for now, iPhone and Blackberry support are expected in the near future.
[via The New York Times]
Photo courtesy of OnStar Connections under the Creative Commons License