GM's OnStar system has just taken a leap into connectivity, adding audio Facebook updates, voice texting, and apps that control your car from your phone. Suddenly, your most expensive gadget might be your car.
There are a few components to GM's announcement today, including next-generation hardware and an overhauled IT infastructure. But what really stand out are the inclusion of Audio Facebook and text-to-toice, along with a brand of phone apps that will be able to start your car and work your horn, lights and door locks remotely.
Here's how the former works: If you've got an incoming SMS and your phone is connected to OnStar via Bluetooth, the car will read that text back to you. Simple enough! You can also send a voice-activated response, but you'll only be able to choose from one of several pre-programmed responses. For example, say "I'm driving" and your car will send back a text about how you're busy driving at the moment. You can't dictate a text back yet, and it's possible you may never be able to because of safety concerns. Likewise, Audio Facebook can read back your news feed to you and will let you update your status with an audio recording. Texting is in beta, Audio Facebook in early tests.
The family of phone apps, known as MyLink, will hit Android first, with iPhone not far behind. It'll hit Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, and has already been shown off in the Chevy Volt.
One of the more surprising aspects of today's announcements is that GM is opening up their OnStar voice API to developers. The idea of open-source apps for a car might be a little intimidating—especially given worries about a system like OnStar's potential vulnerabilities—but nothing would ever reach your vehicle without being strictly vetted by GM.