Last week, Apple announced a host of planned updates to the Siri personal assistant service found in company’s iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet (Siri integration is coming to iPad in the fall). One of those updates, called “eyes-free”, allows an iPhone or iPad user to use Siri without picking up or looking at the device to initiate the feature, which can be used to schedule a meeting, send a text message, add a reminder, find a local restaurant, check sports scores, and perform a myriad of other tasks — all using natural-language voice commands.
During Apple’s presentation, the company’s Senior Vice President of iOS development Scott Forstall prominently displayed a list of nine automakers that have been working with Apple to bring Siri hands-free functionality to their vehicles. One of those automakers was General Motors.
Today, GM Authority has learned that The General will soon introduce Siri eyes-free integration in its vehicles and the first ones to get the integration will be the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic. While the automaker’s media representatives didn’t provide specific timing details, we were told that we should expect an announcement within the next 12 months.
The GM Authority Take
Siri eyes-free falls well within GM’s strategy of allowing the smartphone to carry out the functionality it was engineered for while allowing the user to access using the vehicle’s natural interfaces (buttons, etc.), as pointed out to us by GM’s Scott Fosgard. In fact, doing so keeps complexity out of the vehicle and allows GM to keep costs down — a win-win, if you ask us.
Here’s the way we imagine eyes-free would work in the Sonic and Spark: the driver will use a button on the steering wheel (likely the push-to-talk button) to initialize Siri, which will then open the car’s Bluetooth microphone and feed the audio to Siri on the iPhone or iPad. Currently, Siri can only be initialized by picking up the iPhone and holding down the home button — far from the ideal eyes-free and hands-free experience. The question now is whether Siri eyes-free will require Chevy MyLink infotainment, or if it will be able to work using Chevy’s default MyColor Touch Radio experience. Either way, it’s great to see The General on the leading edge of integration of in-car infotainment systems and devices.
But forget all that; guess who isn’t on the list of automakers collaborating with Apple to safely bring Siri functionality to their vehicles? Ford isn’t. So much for the all-mighty SYNC. We kid, of course. But really…