Are you addicted to Facebook? If you truly want to feed your addiction, you might want to subscribe to General Motors’ OnStar in-car communication service. If you’re trying to break it, maybe not.
From this month, OnStar will be offering subscribers the chance to have their text messages and Facebook updates read to them while they are driving, according to a report on Freep.com. Users would also be able to text or update Facebook using voice commands.
It’s understood that GM is planning an advertising campaign to market OnStar and its new services from mid September. OnStar has operated since 1996 but started with safety services as roadside assistance and communication with ambulance and police services in the event of an accident. Since rival Ford launched SYNC, powered by Microsoft, in 2007, the reputation of OnStar has suffered. SYNC has more focus on infotainment and smart phone linkages, though as far as I can tell it has no Facebook integration.
Since this year, OnStar has been dabbling with infotainment and developed smart phone applications that allow consumers to monitor gas or battery-charge levels and control the vehicle’s locks, horn and remote start. As well as the Facebook integration, it’s reported that the service could be considering offering some services to non-subscribers and expanding its technology partnerships, beyond its current alliance with Google for smart phone apps.
I must admit I’m skeptical about the utility of getting Facebook updates in the car. It seems a little like technology for the sake of technology to me. Most Facebook messages are not urgent – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Facebook message that’s so urgent that it can’t wait an hour or two. If anything, it could be annoying to get my Facebook updates while I’m not in the mindset of actively checking my account or emails.
On the other hand, getting text messages read aloud could be quite useful and perhaps even improve public safety. Our roads are plagued by irresponsible people who seem to think it’s okay to text while driving, with no regard to the safety of themselves, other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Anything that cuts that down has to be a good thing.