• Jun 8, 2010
Google, a company so large that it's become both a noun and a verb, is spreading the goodness of its Google Maps programming even further into the automotive realm with the announcement that it's now being incorporated into General Motors' OnStar eNav technology.

Perhaps you'll recall that Ford made a remarkably similar move this morning, adding the ability to sync Google Maps to its well regarded Sync system. The major difference between Ford's Sync and GM's OnStar integration of Google Maps is that the Blue Oval's implementation relies on the connectivity of your cellular phone while The General's technology includes its own communications equipment.

Both Ford's and GM's Google Maps integration will go into full effect later this month. All GM vehicles from the 2006 model year forward that are equipped with Turn-by-Turn Navigation capability will gain the newfound capabilities. Get all the details in the press release after the break.

[Source: General Motors]
Show full PR text

OnStar, Google Partner to Expand Turn-by-Turn Navigation
Subscribers Can Load Google Maps at Home and View via OnStar eNav

Detroit - OnStar and Google have reached an agreement that will let OnStar users search for and identify destinations using Google Maps and send those destinations to the Turn-by-Turn Navigation Service in their vehicles.

OnStar eNav, a feature of Turn-by-Turn Navigation, will become available through Google Maps at the end of this month. Drivers can access the destinations whenever they choose and get OnStar Turn-by-Turn directions to the destination from wherever they are.

Turn-by-Turn Navigation is the most widely available built-in navigation system in the automotive market today.

"eNav is a perfect solution for subscribers who like the flexibility of being able to use Google Maps to plan their trips in advance, but without the hassle of bringing printed maps into the vehicle," said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of new business development.

"The eNav feature of our Turn-by-Turn service allows drivers to keep their eyes, hands and minds where they need to be – on the road," Pudar said. "And if they ever need help on the road, they can always just push the Blue OnStar Button to speak to a live advisor."

The Google Maps option will be available on all current Turn-by-Turn capable GM vehicles starting with the 2006 model year and also will integrate with OnStar Destination Download to send destinations directly to the vehicle's screen-based navigation system.

This follows last month's announcement in which OnStar and Google demonstrated mobile mapping and location functions for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle that leverage the Google Android platform.

For the 2011 model year, OnStar Directions and Connections service is standard on all OnStar-equipped, GM retail vehicles. General Motors is the only auto manufacturer to offer navigation standard across all price points and all vehicle segments. Since launch, OnStar has delivered more than 54 million Turn-by-Turn Navigation routes, currently averaging more than 1.4 million per month.

OnStar, the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and communication services, also announced today that it has been honored with the Best Use of Telemetric Technology in the Public Sector award at the Telemetric Update conference in Detroit.


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  • 24 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good idea but I sure hope you can look up the address with an OnStar tech because it must be hell to find a specific location using only the radio buttons and no real screen.

      I'll keep my Garmin for now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can you say, "voice recognition"? I knew you could! SYNC TDI will lookup that address and get directions for you by voice command with your hands on the wheel.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, like the Ford you pick a destination on your home computer or mobile device with google maps and then have it tell your car (through OnStar) to direct you there. And then it does. No fiddling with the head unit needed at all.

        It's not perfect but for low-end cars it's a very cost-effective solution. Which is why Ford and GM have latched onto it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Both systems have their virtues, and vices. OnStar costs money, Sync is free (on monthly fees). OnStar has some owner-assist functions Ford does not (such as door unlock or stolen vehicle kill).

      If GM does partner w/Google for a new entertainment interface, and introduces a tiered pay model (some functions free, monthly fee for others Ford does not offer)Then OnStar would be better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ford has provided the door unlock function for over 20 years (1986 Taurus initially). The number pad on the drivers door allows you to unlock the driver's door and trunk independently or lock/unlock all doors. Best thing about it is you don't need to call someone to do it for you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Neat that the head unit would display the next turn/move, but to have to keep looking down at it.... eh...
        • 4 Years Ago
        It also plays audio through the stereo speakers as well. It's not solely on the head unit screen. On some models, it's actually in the center of the instrument panel as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That head unit is hot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Are you kidding?

      You need a co-pilot navigator for that thing.

      Parsing text on a tiny matrix screen, and tiny little buttons with variable functions?

      I know SimpleCar will probably have a fit with what I am about to say...

      But how is that not horrendously worse, ergonomically, and for quick-glance parsing, than a color touch screen?

      You'll miss the turn just trying to pay enough attention to that little display and figure out what it is saying this time, as it changes.

      If you must have a NAV system, and I still contend that mental acuity is better than routinely relying on any form of map while negotiating a motor vehicle through traffic...

      If you must have technology direct you, it had better be pretty darn clear, concise, and easy to both read in 1 second or less, and quick to manipulate, if you absolutely must.

      frankly, I don't need NAV, and a quick perusal of my iphone's down-view map function between where I am, and where I am going, before I get the car rolling, and I am SET.

      I certainly don't need OwnStar beaming little text and arrow graphics to my stereo display, to try to get where I want to go.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Onstar sends the directions to the car two different ways..both are hands free..you either talk to an adviser via the OnStar button and give an address or business name or intersection. The second way is through ENAV and you can go to www.mapquest.com to do this. Contrary to what may have said here if you haven't used it, it truely is a simple system and easy to use, you don't have to look at the radio for directions...the primary directions are voice activated, they override the radio station or cd you have playing and also override the HVAC system turning your fan down so that you can hear. The directions on the screen of the radio are a secondary source of directions, verbal being primary. If you miss a turn you can update or suspend a route and it will continue when you return to the route...or guide you back to it if you make a wrong turn. The arguement that a garmin is just as good is incorrect. A handheld GPS works solely off of a sattelite..the OnStar system works off of GPS as well as the wheel speed sensors in the tires so when the vehicle becomes invisible because of buildings or what have you, the wheel speed sensors then take over and know how far you have travelled and where you are on the intended course. Yes there is a cost but there are costs also incurred when you update a map on a handheld GPS. The sync system is a good system but relies upon cellular signal..not naming names but depending on the carrier you may have coverage areas that are not so hot and the increased costs of data plans may be more than for the On Star system.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nothing has changed and it never will. Ford is and has always been a cheaper less sophisticated product than GM.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why should I pay for a cell phone that only works in my car when I already have one that works everywhere? GM's product is more expensive for the same functionality.
        • 4 Years Ago
        nardvark:
        Most people will have to pay extra for either system. Hell, I pay $100/mo for my iPhone and I'd still need to pay another $20/mo to make Ford's system work. Of course OnStar is even more expensive than that (I think).
        • 4 Years Ago
        My new Fiesta sat next to a Chevy Aveo begs to differ.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Fiesta and The Aveo are two different generations. Akin to comparing the New Cruz with the (sic) current Focus.

        Its more apt to compare the Fiesta with the Beat (as and when it comes out)
      • 4 Years Ago
      The other difference being that Ford's system is free to use forever. Ford uses mobile phones as its basis since they know everyone pretty much already has one. Using Onstar you have to pay for your phone AND Onstar services.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes and no. If you have Verizon you can link you Onstar equipped vehicle to your cell phones account. The SYNC system doesn't use tethering (a process of using a cell phone as a modem to gain a constant internet connection) you just download info to your phone and transmit it with bluetooth to the car. It does require a data package but not tethering. It's more like sending an e-mail with an attachment of a picture. Not a data heavy transmission. As far as SYNC winning out. I'd say it's less likely. SYNC is an extra cost option Onstar is built into every car. Most people won't pay extra for an expensive nav screen when they can get a standalone unit for $100. Granted Onstar isn't perfect but it does work quite well most of the time and if you don't like it you don't have to pay for it when it expires. In the end it will probably be a merging of the best of both techs that wins.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Steve:
        I assure you SYNC doesn't use voice to deliver the data.

        But I'll accept v6's answer that it's more like sending an MMS than using a tethering package.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Lets be clear on what parts of Sync are part of the subscription service and which are not.

        There are no monthly fees to use SYNC's hands-free features, 911 Assist, and Vehicle Health Report, aside from the regular fees you already pay your wireless phone provider for your particular calling plan.

        SYNC's Traffic, Directions and Information service is available as a complimentary 3-year subscription* for owners of new vehicles equipped with the service.

        So, yes, I was incorrect in my original statement. The directions from Google Maps and some other services will need to be paid for as a subscription after 3 years (still a great deal). But as a stand alone feature, Sync still retains a lot of functionality that will be free to use forever without a subscription. Not sure if the same can be said of Onstar. Does their 911 help still work even if you let the subscription run out? That would be nice if it did but I don't know.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Either way using your mobile device to "tether" data is actually restricted by most cell phone plans unless you add a "tethering data plan". So TECHNICALLY it could void any and all plans unless the said data plan is on your account.

        It's also technically for folks like me that tether there android to a laptop to get internet access wherever, whenever. The wireless companies know that the future is data and not minutes so their "unlimited" plans are limited to the phone's exclusive use of the data and it cannot send the data anywhere else. Of course with care and caution one can always just do it anyway... There's an APP for that! ;)

        How To Tether Your Android Phone
        http://lifehacker.com/5447347/how-to-tether-your-android-phone
      • 4 Years Ago
      OnStar navigation has been avaiable for years and it isn't a person that reads you directions.

      I have it on my 2007 ESV and my 2009 GXP. You tell the advisor where you want to go or what you're looking for and they download the directions to the vehicle. The vehicle then displays everything about the route in the DIC or across the radio itself with voice instructions.

      I'm not sure how the Google tie-up will change that, but it's an extremely nice and very userfriendly feature I really like on my GM vehicles. It makes the low price per month for OnStar worth it alone.
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