General Motors has begun testing applications that allow subscribers to its OnStar vehicle communication system to update their Facebook status verbally and to receive text messages audibly.
The new OnStar applications come as GM competes with U.S. rival Ford Motor Co, which partnered with Microsoft Corp to launch the Sync vehicle connectivity system that is credited with boosting Ford’s sales and its popularity among younger car shoppers.
The new OnStar will feature text-to-voice functionality would allow the user to sync smartphones. The user can also listen to recent news feed messages from Facebook and can make one of four pre-set replies to the text messages they receive and thus safely text message while driving.
The new OnStar will also allegedly allow voice control of Facebook–it’s said to be able to both update and read back status updates from friends–as well as the standard entertainment (music, podcasts) features.
GM’s 15-year-old OnStar service is free for the first year after a new car purchase and $199 per year afterward for a package that includes an automatic response in the event of a crash and other assistance. For $299 per year, the system includes navigation and information service.