OnStar Rumors Are True: Upgrades Bring The Service Into The 21st Century

September 15, 2010

Last week, we reported not once, but twice about rumored upgrades to General Motors' popular OnStar service. Now, they're no longer rumors: the upgrades are coming, and they're coming soon. Well, probably.

Most of today's news from GM centers around stuff we've already mentioned -- stuff which is now in a safety testing phase and will likely launch in fairly short order. When the current round of tests conclude, Onstar could:

  • Read news from subscribers' Facebook feeds.
  • Allow users to update their own Facebook status messages by voice command.
  • Connect to users' phones (via Bluetooth) to read text messages.
  • Allow users to send text messages via voice command.

There's still no word about a projected timeline for that rollout, but since the service is playing catch-up with Ford Sync (and other in-car services), we imagine it's on the very fastest of tracks.

Beyond that, the biggest news from GM seems to be OnStar's smartphone integration. We saw hints of this in the Chevy Volt app developed for Android, but the concept has been significantly expanded and is now the focus of a new ad campaign, set to launch next Monday. Here's a sneak peek:

There were two more important items mentioned in GM's long, sprawling, OnStar-themed press release:

  • GM has launched a competition for student developers to create voice-enabled apps for OnStar. The contest begins in January 2011; more details are available at OnStarDeveloperChallenge.com.
  • Through the GM Foundation, the company awarded $600,000 in grants to International Center for Automotive Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help improve emergency treatment for crash victims.

And perhaps most importantly: throughout the release, GM talks about its attention to safety, its "Focus on 'Responsible Connectivity'". Given today's concerns about distracted driving -- whether the distraction is eating, digital billboards, or texting -- it's good to see GM so aware of these safety issues (and the potential slew of lawsuits they might spawn). 

For additional information, check out the full GM press release below. And if you want a little chuckle, check out the Detroit News' interview with OnStar president Chris Preuss, who gives "props" to Ford for developing Sync. The kids still give "props", right? 

* * * * *

OnStar Relaunches Its Brand with Focus on “Responsible Connectivity”


  • New telematics computing platform includes social media/voice-texting capability and potential for open development
  • New  OnStar MyLink sub-brand for smart phone applications for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC
  • Ninth-generation hardware improves navigation and user features
  • New services extend OnStar’s safety leadership
  • All new marketing campaign and business strategy

New York - OnStar is launching new services, capabilities and technology for its nearly 6 million subscribers as part of a top-to-bottom realignment of the company’s long-term strategy built around ‘responsible connectivity.’

OnStar plans to pilot major innovations that significantly increase drivers’ in-car connection to the world, while extending its safety leadership in the automotive industry.

“These initiatives are all about OnStar’s role in keeping drivers and passengers connected and safe,” said OnStar President Chris Preuss.  “Building on the rock-solid foundation of OnStar’s safety and security platform, we were given a clear directive to develop OnStar as one of the chief pillars in defining General Motors’ business going forward.”

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