If you're a fan of cars and technology, this is a very big week. Three important services have arrived on infotainment systems, which could make your daily commute more comfortable -- provided you've got a good data plan with your mobile carrier.
Last June, we mentioned that Apple's Siri personal assistant would soon be integrated into vehicles from nine different automakers. Now, the first fruits of those labors are ready for picking.
According to General Motors, owners of 2013 Chevrolet Sonic and 2013 Spark vehicles equipped with Chevrolet MyLink can now make use of Siri using certain iPhone, iPad, and iPad Touch models. Once users connect their mobile device to the car with MyLink, they can make hands-free calls, control playback of music, compose and listen to text messages, or access their calendars.
How is this different from using Siri through a phone or tablet? Most importantly, Siri is now enabled via a voice activation button, found on the steering wheel of the Sonic and Spark. So, rather than fumbling with a handheld device, you can maintain your grip on the wheel and keep your eyes on the road -- all while accessing your personal data and asking Siri to update you on news, game scores, search queries, and more.
Amazon Cloud Player
If you purchase music from Amazon or maintain your collection in the company's Cloud Player, you'll be happy to know that the Player is now integrated with many Ford vehicles, including 2013 C-MAX Hybrid, Expedition, F-150, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Mustang models equipped with Ford SYNC Applink.
Like the Siri integration mentioned above, Ford owners simply connect their mobile devices to SYNC, then access their media collections on Amazon Cloud Player using voice controls or directly on the dashboard. For specifics, visit Amazon.com.
The only drawback? For now, it appears that this functionality is limited to Android devices, even though the Cloud Player app is available for other operating systems. We'll let you know if and when it rolls out to additional gadgets.
If you're not familiar with Slacker, you're not alone. Slacker is a music discovery service much like Pandora -- in fact, it's so much like Pandora that it's been largely overshadowed.
However, there's one key difference: discovery on Pandora is conducted via the company's "music genome project" (which guesses the sort of music you'll like based on songs you've approved), but Slacker's stations are curated by real people. And with a music library of 13,000,000 songs, the service hosts far more content than Pandora.
Now, Slacker is available for free on mobile devices, wherever you go. Visit Slacker.com to download apps for Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows.