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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

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.