September 9, 2010

GM Adding Facebook, Texting Support To OnStar

Detroit-based automotive manufacturer General Motors (GM) has announced plans to allow drivers to verbally update their Facebook status or receive audio versions of text messages through their OnStar vehicle communication network.

"The verbal updates would be made through GM's OnStar safety network and are part of the automaker's effort to use the OnStar brand to better compete with rival Ford Motor Co. in auto information and entertainment," the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.

GM is also testing a feature that would read cellular telephone text messages to drivers and allow them to respond by picking one of four preset replies with a button on the steering wheel," the company added in a statement, according to the AP.

According to Reuters, the new applications would allow subscribers to the 15-year-old OnStar service to "listen to recent news feed messages from Facebook" and "make one of four pre-set replies to the text messages they receive."

The company has not yet announced when the system will be implemented.

OnStar is currently free for one year following the purchase of a new vehicle, and afterwards is $199 per year for the basic package (automatic-crash response and other assistance only) or $299 for an advanced package (which also includes GPS and information services).

GM competitor Ford previously announced a partnership with Microsoft in order to launch vehicle connectivity software SYNC. According to the SYNC website, the $395 annual service offers hands-free calling, voice-activated MP3 controls, personalized business, news, and sports information, GPS-style directions, a vehicle diagnostic system, and audible text messages.

"This is a real clear chance to break with old tradition," James Bell, an executive market analyst with Kelley Blue Book, told Christina Rogers of the Detroit News on Thursday. "GM can't slide down the scale, especially compared with Ford, with being responsive to younger buyers' interest."


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