General Motors has been continuously been updating its OnStar system since it launched in 1997, but its most recent round of upgrades possibly make it more user-friendly and versatile than ever. Today, the automaker announced that OnStar is now compatible with many modern smartphones.
"Giving our customers control of their vehicles with smart phone application technology is a key advantage of OnStar's in-vehicle connectivity," OnStar president Chris Preuss said in a statement. "This technology empowers drivers to make decisions about their travels well before they enter the vehicle, meaning their full attention can stay where it needs to be -- on the road ahead."
Starting with the 2011 model year, GM will offer brand-specific applications for each of its marques, available for download on either the iPhone or Android-based smartphones. (Sorry, BlackBerry owners. If you want your fix, you'll have to turn to BMW.) Utilizing the data connection on the phone, owners have the power to perform any task on their key fob from just about any location, including vehicle lock/unlock, panic, and remote start.
In addition to the standard key fob functions, owners will be able to monitor diagnostic information via their devices. Information including tire pressures, oil life, odometer reading, fuel status, and range are all updated every time the vehicle is started, leaving no doubt about the status of the systems. The remote system also provides OnStar account and VIN information, as well as a direct link to customer service, just like an OnStar-equipped vehicle does. GM has plans to custom-tailor each application to the needs of each brand's customers, but is holding the specifics for a later date.
GM says it will begin rolling out the apps as its 2011 models become available. OnStar may have previously been a nice feature to have before, but being gadget lovers, we can't wait to give it a whirl.