Monday, May 10, 2010

GM = Google Motors?

Thanks to Dan Miller at Opus Research for bringing this to my attention. I've included a hyper-link back to his original blog of the story.

After Ford showcased the full spectrum SYNC services on a sub-$16K Fiesta (even taking Kara Swisher for a test sit), GM appears prepared to counter with a broad variety of wireless mobile apps offered in conjunction with Google. In this article in Motor Trend Todd Lassa lays out the basics of a relationship whereby the the “open” Android operating system would be licensed for use in GM automobiles.

Lassa asserts that the GM/Google relationship would place emphasis on a better phone-to-car interface, as opposed to the voice control and voice user interface that Microsoft’s Speech Application Group has played up. Thus GM’s approach will enable drivers to use their phones to do such things as start or turn off their cars, lock and unlock doors, and make other adjustments. It was not spelled out explicitly in the article, but given Google’s efforts to invoke automated speech recognition whenever a keyboard comes into play on a mobile device, it is highly likely that all of these functions can be voice controlled – making starting your car another “speechable moment”.

As for the supposition that Android in the car spells the end of OnStar, that is highly unlikely. Lassa notes that turn-by-turn directions through OnStar would become unnecessary because Android phones using Google Maps and a special mount have been successfully deployed for in-car navigation. But OnStar has been sold more as a safety feature and remote diagnostic service. The Android operating system in the car is more likely to augment, rather than compete with OnStar.

The prospects for more automobile-based Android apps is provocative. The car is destined to be the most fertile spawning ground for speech-based apps and the prospects for Android-oriented developers to define a range of “hands-on-the-wheel/eyes-facing-forward” capabilities and activities is very promising. Meanwhile, Ford remains ahead of the game with a well-defined, and now time tested, suite of voice control applications for frequent activities like carrying out phone conversations, messaging and controlling the car’s entertainment system.

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