OnStar will Connect with Google Mobile Apps

By Kevin Gordon

Earlier this week we reported that GM was rumored to be partnering with Google to provide more advanced mobile and in-car capabilities for their upcoming Chevy Volt. Yesterday it was officially annouced that OnStar will be using Google’s Android mobile platform to develop a “number” of mobile application features for future GM customers. Instead of this being a primarily in-car experience, the concept appears to be in which users will have an application on their Android mobile device to receive status on their car, find it in a parking lot, and receive turn-by-turn navigation in conjunction with OnStar. Other functions include beaping the car’s horn (which sounds like a better prank than a function), remote start, and battery charge information for the Volt.

The contrasting model to this would be to build these apps into the car. This is what Ford has done with their SYNC system, leaving the thinking to the CPU in the car and just the connection to the outside world in your phone. Instead, GM and Google appear to be betting that the mobile device itself will eventually evolve to be the brains of the infotainment center in the car. More after the break.  

This is something that automotive geeks have been arguing about for some time. Will in-car navigation systems go the way of dodo and will people rely on their mobile devices for navigation, car status, and entertainment? As an Android user (I’m one of the very few people who owns a Google/HTC Nexus One) I can state that you can live with just your phone and use its turn-by-turn navigation, but it is far from the usability of a modern Ford navigation system with Sync and an eight-inch high-resolution screen. Also, if you happen venture into areas with limited cell phone reception, or even those that lack a 3G network, you’ll be crying for a standard GPS unit.

We look forward to experiencing this sytem in person, but since we have not and the good people at Earth2Tech have; here is a video of their experience.

The current issue? Apple iPhone users need not apply, and last time we checked, the best-selling smartphone is the iPhone. Oh, and then there is the fact that these advanced capabilities will not launch until version 2.0 of the software, which will not be available for the Volt’s launch.

Given the option of having the brains of your navigation and entertainment built into your car or having it be run from your smart phone which would you choose?

Sources: Gizmodo, Earth2Tech, GM Press Release

Author: Kevin Gordon

Kevin is Autosavant's owner and Editor-in-Chief, responsible for setting the overall strategy and editorial direction of Autosavant. He's also the primary contributor to Autosavant's YouTube channel (youtube.com/autosavant) where you can find a comprehensive library of new-car reviews.

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1 Comment

  1. I see 2 large steps in the evolution mobile computing (in the car or otherwise) 1) ubiquitous high-speed internet connectivity, 2) cloud computing.

    Once these become a reality, it’s just a matter of time before your home and work computers, cell phone, and in-car entertainment systems converge. I believe 7″ touch screen LCDs and internet receivers (long-range wifi or similar) will become a standard feature in all car, but instead of relying on pre-installed software like Sync or OnStar, they will just be thin clients for the cloud, or a docking station for your cell phone.

    Right now we’re still stuck somewhere in-between. Smart phones are increasingly able to substitute for computers and dedicated mobile devices (nav, music, etc), but as mentioned in the post, the ergonomics are lacking — the form factor needed for a cell phone vs. a nav system are very different.

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