Now you can text on your Android or update your Facebook page while driving, and without taking your eyes off the road. How? With OnStar's new Android mobile phone voice communications app announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Tuesday night. The app is just a pilot project for now. It connects the Android to OnStar, and uses voice recognition to let the driver handle texts or Facebook safely.
Drivers can select a voice command from a list of defined messages, including "yes," "no," and "driving." Custom message can be transcribed into text and messages can be posted as Facebook audio clips. Instead of telling your 538 friends what you had for breakfast, tell them which roads you took to get home.
The driver can say "call back" for text messages, and the system automatically dials the phone number connected to the text. Texting, after all, is just like talking on the phone, except with typed words, except when you're driving, in which case it's kinda like talking on the phone.
The driver can also set an automatic reply for text messages like, "I'm on the road and can't get back to you until 3 p.m.," a feature we wholly endorse. The driver also can say "like" in order to "like" a friend's update. Ah, modern technology.
This app requires a phone running Android 2.2 or higher, and a vehicle with OnStar and Bluetooth.
OnStar plans a full launch of the system throughout the Android market for later in the first half of this year. The General Motors subsidiary, which is on a major product push to try and catch up with Ford's Microsoft-based Sync system, has not decided how much to charge for the service.
Onstar also announced that it will soon sell aftermarket kits for automotive brands other than GM. The company announced its independence and plans to offer the mirror hardware through Best Buy and other consumer electronics retailers beginning this spring.
Price is $299 for the hardware, which includes the rearview mirror with the familiar blue and white button, plus an estimated $75 to $100 for installation. Prices for a range of plans will start at $18.95 per month, or $199 per year. Features include the automatic crash response and link to emergency services in the basic plans, plus a stolen vehicle locator, turn-by-turn navigation, roadside assistance and hands-free calling through either a Bluetooth connection or prepaid OnStar minutes.
OnStar's unique selling proposition is that unlike most in-car services, or even most phone calls to businesses, you speak with a real person on the other end of the system. The company says the OnStar mirror already is certified for 99 percent of the 20 best-selling non-GM models sold in the U.S. over the past 10 years, about 55 million cars and light trucks.