Early this year, General Motors' OnStar telematics unit unveiled a smartphone application it had developed for the Chevrolet Volt that allows drivers to remotely manage the charging, locking and unlocking of their vehicle and pre-warm or cool it while plugged in. OnStar is now extending that basic concept to nearly the entire General Motors lineup for 2011.
One of the key hardware differences between OnStar and Ford's Sync technology is that GM integrates cellular radios into the car while Ford relies on the driver's existing phone connected via Bluetooth or a cable. This allows Ford to offer services like turn-by-turn directions without charging a subscription fee. OnStar has long struggled to find a way to convince customers to continue paying the subscription after the initial complimentary period expires.
The integrated cellular radio allows OnStar to offer services like remote starting, car location and lock/unlock from anywhere that can't be done with Sync or just a short-range key fob. The applications will also provide access to vehicle data like tire pressures and oil levels, and allow owners to call an OnStar adviser or schedule service appointments with a dealer. The applications will be available for Androids and iPhones. You can check out a video after the jump.
[Source: General Motors]
Soon Available for 2011 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles
Detroit – Owners of most new 2011 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles will soon be able to control key vehicle functions from their smart phones, thanks to the power of OnStar.
Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC are leveraging OnStar technology to develop the most robust mobile applications on the market for new vehicle owners. Each of the brand-specific apps will allow owners to activate all of the functions available on a traditional vehicle key fob – remote start, horn and lights and door lock/unlock – securely from their smartphones. This means drivers will no longer have to be within a requisite distance, or even have their keys with them, to control these functions on their vehicles.
"Giving our customers control of their vehicles with smart phone application technology is a key advantage of OnStar's in-vehicle connectivity," said Chris Preuss, OnStar president. "This technology empowers drivers to make decisions about their travels well before they enter the vehicle, meaning their full attention can stay where it needs to be – on the road ahead."
For example, say someone is racing to catch a flight and realizes at the gate that he forgot to lock his vehicle. OnStar's mobile app technology allows him to log into his Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick or GMC app, enter his custom PIN and send a remote lock signal to his vehicle, giving him the peace of mind to go on with his trip knowing his vehicle is secure.
Or, for example, a family attending a baseball game on a hot summer day could remotely start their vehicle as they are leaving the ballpark, so the vehicle is cooled to a comfortable temperature by they reach it.
In addition, the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC apps will leverage OnStar's unique connection to the vehicle to provide key diagnostic information, including fuel tank level and range, remaining oil life, current and recommended tire pressure and lifetime average miles per gallon . The diagnostic information is current as of the last vehicle start, giving OnStar subscribers an up-to-date health report of their vehicle anytime they need it.
Important vehicle information, such as current odometer reading, vehicle VIN and OnStar account number also will be readily accessible within the apps upon secure login. And should OnStar subscribers need assistance with something that the mobile apps don't provide, they can one-touch dial to specially trained advisors, who are available to assist customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The OnStar mobile app services will be available to millions of drivers of the vast majority of vehicles in the 2011 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC portfolios, including the just-launched Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac CTS Coupe, and are currently functional on the iPhone and Android systems. The Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC mobile applications will offer a variety of other features tailored specifically for each brand's customers that will be revealed in totality when the brands begin bringing their apps to market in the months ahead.
"We're working aggressively to bring the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC applications to market as soon as possible," says Joel Ewanick, vice president, GM Marketing. "Because we know that each brand's customers have different tastes, wants and needs, the apps will be very specifically tailored to offer them the services they value most, leveraging these innovative OnStar features as a compelling mutual foundation."
OnStar and Chevrolet announced the auto industry's first working smartphone application for the Chevrolet Volt at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. The Volt mobile application is a unique app that will be available to customers in tandem with the launch of the vehicle, as previously announced.