New OnStar buttons for select 2013 General Motors modelsEnlarge Photo
In America, we often believe that bigger is better. We don't eat hamburgers, we eat Whoppers and Quarter-Pounders. We don't sip sodas, we slug Big Gulps. And who's going to waste time on a home improvement show that doesn't feature an extreme makeover?
With that in mind, the revamped OnStar buttons found on some 2013-model rear-view mirrors may seem underwhelming. But in this case, less is more.
The blue OnStar button in the center of the mirror hasn't changed. Pressing it still puts you in touch with OnStar operators, where you can update your account, get navigation help, or request a diagnostics check, depending on your subscription plan and the model of your vehicle.
The white cross, which used to be on the far right, has been replaced by an "SOS" button. It still serves the same function -- providing assistance in emergency situations -- but according to an official press release, "The white cross does not always represent an emergency, depending on the country". Since OnStar is trying to keep its products consistent across multiple markets, this makes the device a bit more universal.
The biggest change is on the far left, where the icon of a white courtesy telephone has been replaced by the image of a person speaking. That button used to be called the "Hands-Free Calling Button", but given the improvements in GM's telematics and infotainment systems, it now does a good bit more.
Sure, you can still use the new "Voice Command" button to make calls, but, depending on your subscription plan, you can also access destinations you've saved on MapQuest, and you can get updates on traffic, weather, and even stocks.
Most importantly, the Voice Command button allows users to control infotainment systems like Buick/GMC IntelliLink, Cadillac CUE, and Chevrolet MyLink. Just speak a few simple commands to zip through stored music, radio stations, and more. Or, if you prefer, you can do the same thing by tapping the "Voice Command" button found on the display screen on the center stack.
If you're especially lucky, you'll find OnStar's revamped controls on GM's new "frameless" rearview mirror. Though not completely frameless, it's much sleeker than most, and the buttons light up when touched, then dim. It's standard on 2013 models of the Chevrolet Camaro 2SS, 2LT, and ZL1 coupe and convertible, and if customers like it, GM may roll it out to other models soon.