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Facebook, texting via GM OnStar?

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Facebook, texting via GM OnStar?

By Chrissie Thompson


General Motors’ OnStar communications business will begin this month to offer in-car connections to Facebook and text messages and will launch advertising to try to match the marketing boost Ford has received from Sync, a person familiar with the plans said.

OnStar will offer subscribers the chance to have their Facebook and text messages read to them. Users will also be able to text and update their Facebook accounts through voice commands, the person said, declining to be identified because the plans aren’t public.

OnStar will also launch an ad campaign in mid-September with the tag line “Live On,” the source said. GM executives realize Ford’s image has benefited from marketing Sync, the person said, and GM wants to catch up.

Launched in 1996, OnStar established itself with such safety services as roadside assistance and communication with ambulance and police services in the event of an accident. Ford launched the Microsoft-powered Sync in 2007 as an infotainment technology that linked vehicles to smart phones.

OnStar has this year explored breaking into infotainment. So far, it has dabbled in smart phone applications that allow consumers to monitor gas or battery-charge levels and control the vehicle’s locks, horn and remote start.

OnStar is also considering offering some services to non-subscribers, the source said. OnStar, free on most GM vehicles for the first year, costs $199 annually for safety features and $299 for a package that includes safety and navigation help.

The brand, which already works with Google on its smart phone apps, will also expand its technological partnerships, the person said.

Bloomberg earlier reported OnStar’s upcoming new services.

Read more: Facebook, texting via GM OnStar? | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100907/BUSINESS0101/100907046/1210/BUSINESS01/Facebook-texting-via-GM-OnStar?#ixzz0ytWc8LWc

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By Mark Kleis

As infotainment systems continue to evolve based on customer wants and needs, General Motors is reconsidering its position of making OnStar purely a paid service – citing the need to offer a comparable product to Ford’s equally successful Sync.

When GM created OnStar it purely envisioned a subscription service intended to provide driver’s with directions, vehicle diagnostics, help to remotely unlock the vehicle is keys are locked inside and to provide automatic accident alerts for emergency personnel. But when GM created OnStar, Ford didn’t have Sync. Now they do.

“When Ford came out with Sync, they met OnStar’s services and upped the ante,” said Brandy Schaffels of TrueCar in an interview with Bloomberg. “Technological features are where GM and Ford are going to found their reputation with the next generation.”

Now that Ford has established itself as an industry-wide leader in the realm of infotainment, first with Sync, and now with MyFord Touch, GM apparently realized that it may need to begin offering subscription-free services as well, according to two inside sources that spoke with Bloomberg.

Social media continues to find its way into automobiles

Just as social media slowly – and then rapidly began to creep into the everyday lives of many Americans outside of the car, now the new avenue of communication is making its way into the automobile as well. No longer is simple cell phone call and text massage integration sufficient, now automakers are integrating Twitter – and now Facebook into infotainment systems.

Although GM has not yet made it public, the same inside sources also told Bloomberg that OnStar will reveal a new service this month that will be capable of reading messages from Facebook, as well as translating voice messages into text.

Next-gen OnStar still faces testing phase

OnStar reportedly has several new features in the works, but before the latest generation of OnStar is offered across GM’s lineup, the automaker will first offer the service in a trial run to a limited number of customers. If customers approve, GM says it will then move towards making the latest features available fleet-wide.

GM also reportedly plans to begin a new marketing effort for OnStar, using the slogan “Live On,” for the main service, as well as sub-slogans such as “Always On,” in reference to the unique emergency response feature.



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New OnStar Coming With Facebook, Trapster

GM's next generation OnStar will get a major upgrade and challenge Ford's Sync system with infotainment options. In addition to OnStar's well-known unparalleled route guidance and safety assistance services, the new system will get apps like Trapster and Facebook.

A Bloomberg story outlines the differences in the new version of OnStar, which should focus its attention on more features designed to make Sync less of a deal maker for their rivals and outline the advantages of OnStar's always-on fat data pipe connection.

They're reporting it'll add text message voice translation and, somehow, Facebook. Will you be able to "like" places you see on the road or "share" routes with your friends? We'll find out soon. As for other features, we're all but certain super popular mobile app Trapster is also getting added to the mix.

The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding in this case is a brand new CTS-V with manufacturer tags in the Trapster World HQ parking lot. The company's taking the loose-lips-sink-ships approach, but they've told us in the past an OEM partnership is in the works and this photo from the Trapster Facebook page seems to confirm it.



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Typing Is For Chumps: OnStar Lets You Speak Your Facebook Updates, Listen To Mail

By Richard Read


September 9th, 2010

Source: SocialCarNews.com

Facebook and OnStar logosEnlarge Photo

It seems like just yesterday we were discussing GM's plans for OnStar, and now, we're getting more information about the popular telematics system's new offerings -- namely, a voice-to-text feature that will allow users to speak their Facebook updates and listen to their Facebook mail.

The feature is set to launch later this month in conjunction with a new ad campaign sporting the tagline, "Live On". The upgrade will allow users to hear Facebook and text messages and respond to them by voice. Although Twitter isn't mentioned in any reports, we'd expect that feature to be included soon, too. And given GM's close work with Google in recent years, we wouldn't be surprised to see Gmail and other Google services rolled in either.

From where we sit, this looks like a great development for General Motors and OnStar. If nothing else, it gives both brands a youthful edge they've been lacking. Facebook and SMS integration are also exactly the sort of first-tier upgrades we'd expect to see in a freemium pricing plan like the one we mentioned yesterday. At launch, they'll probably be rolled into OnStar's existing set of subscriber features, but when/if the freemium version of OnStar arrives, they could be inexpensive add-on services that would add up to big profits for GM.

Of course, we can't talk about interactive systems without bringing up the issue of safety. As we've discussed numerous times before, hands-free services aren't necessarily safer than their hands-on variants because the real distraction for drivers is the communication itself. In other words, whether you're holding a phone to your ear or talking into a dashboard microphone, you're equally distracted from the task of driving. GM spokesperson Jocelyn Allen says that the company is conducting tests to ensure that these OnStar upgrades are safe, but the bigger question is whether drivers will use them responsibly.



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Facebook updates... from behind the wheel

By Peter Vales-Dapena, senior writerSeptember 9, 2010: 1:04 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The next time some jerk cuts you off on the freeway, instead of just cursing to yourself you could tell all your Facebook friends about it, all without taking your hands off the steering wheel.

If General Motors' OnStar division implements a system which is now in testing, recorded audio updates could be posted to a user's Facebook page. Drivers could also hear their friends' status updates read to them by a computerized voice.

OnStar is still deciding if it will make this service available to drivers or not.

"The company will not implement a new service simply because it's technically feasible, it has to be the right thing to do for the customer," OnStar said. "All of our technologies are rigorously evaluated prior to launch.

Americans lead increasingly connected digital lives, and a number of options giving them access to their devices behind the wheel are either now on the market or in development.

Besides the Facebook update feature, OnStar is also testing a system which would allow drivers to hear text messages read to them by the "OnStar Virtual Advisor" computerized voice. By pressing a button on the steering wheel, drivers would also be able to reply using one of four pre-written responses.

The features are similar to Ford Motor Co.'s Sync system. Ford's even more advanced version, called MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, is available in 2011 Ford and Lincoln models. Besides allowing drivers to hear and reply to text messages, Ford's system also allows drivers to interact with cell phone apps for things like Internet radio and Twitter.

Critics are concerned that these systems will lead to greater driver distraction but Ford says that systems like these allow drivers to do things they're already doing anyway, such as checking text messages, while keeping their eyes on the road.

"Our research has shown that the most dangerous part of having these devices in your car is when they take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel," Ford spokesman Alan Hall said.

OnStar, available on nearly all of GM's Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac cars, began as a so-called telematics service that simply allowed drivers to connect with a live operator by pressing a blue button inside the car or that would automatically summon help in the event of a crash.

GM has recently announced a number of additional services for OnStar, including a mobile phone app that allows drivers to check the status of the vehicle -- including fuel level and tire pressure -- remotely. It can also lock or unlock the doors and even start the engine.



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GM's OnStar to read texts, Facebook status updates

08:34 AM

General Motors could soon be offering drivers something they probably didn't know they wanted: The ability to have their cars read their text messages aloud and to dictate Facebook status updates through the car.

The automaker is about to re-launch its OnStar business, pegging it as an infotainment device as well as a safety and security measure.

Chris Preuss, head of OnStar for GM, says the automaker is still working out the details of its plans.

The audio Facebook updates would allow subscribers to verbally update their Facebook status, and listen to the recent news feed messages through the OnStar virtual Advisor.

The company is also testing out a voice texting service, which would allow drivers to have their texts read to them and to send one of four pre-set messages as a reply.

OnStar's new ad campaign, to be launched later this month, will use the tag line "Live On," and other variations like Search On, Travel On, and Drive On. (Wait, where have we heard the Drive On tag before?)



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