OnStar Plans New Features, More Smartphone Apps


Detroit - In what it called a "top-to-bottom realignment" of its long-term strategy, OnStar launched ninth-generation hardware that adds social-networking, text-to-voice reading of text messages from a Bluetooth-equipped cellphone, improved voice recognition and navigation, and a variety of other features.


The company also said it plans to offer smartphone apps for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicle to join its planned Android app for the Chevy Volt, due in the fall. The apps will be marketed under the OnStar MyLink sub-brand.

The new OnStar features will be available in model year 2011, a spokesman told TWICE. In the fourth quarter, iPhone and Android apps will be available for most GM vehicles, the spokesman added.

The first apps will be available in the fourth quarter, a spokesman said.

With the new hardware and infrastructure, OnStar is testing Audio Facebook Updates, which would enable OnStar subscribers to verbally update their Facebook status message. Drivers could also listen to their most recent news feed messages through the OnStar Virtual Advisor service.

 The company is also beta-testing voice-based SMS (short message service), enabling drivers to have their text messages read to them from their Bluetooth-equipped cellphone. Pressing a button on the steering wheel would also enable drivers to reply to a text message by verbally selecting a preset response.

The new hardware also promises "natural" voice recognition, improved navigation, and the ability to work with advanced traffic-management and severe-weather alert services known as geo-boxed notification services.

The planned apps will enable owners to remotely activate all functions that can be activated by GM's remote-equipped key fobs, including remote start, horn and lights, and door locking/unlocking from select smartphones. Android-phone apps have already been shown for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle and the all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan.

An all-new marketing campaign to support the new business strategy includes a new logo and

a new commercial

, said by OnStar President Chris Preuss to consist of "a long-term vision that includes new in-vehicle hardware, an all-new IT infrastructure. and a host of new partnerships and services that provide the basis for growth."

 OnStar will be "one of the chief pillars in defining General Motors' business going forward," he said.


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