Apple and General Motors are taking the Siri personal voice assistant to a new kind of mobile device. The automobile.
The clever and charming app that tells jokes to John Malkovitch and helps Zooey Deschanel arrange her schedule (at least on Apple's commercials) will early next year be integrated into the in-dash MyLink "infotainment" system of the Chevrolet Spark (1 LT and 2 LT) and Sonic LTZ and RS.
Chevrolet officials made the announcement Tuesday at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Drivers with an iPhone running iOS 6 can connect via Bluetooth to access hands-free options with minimal distraction.
She'll Choose Her Answers
In fact, the iPhone's screen won't even light up as a result of the voice commands, even when Siri is answering simple questions that do not require graphics, as maps do. Like a responsible assistant, however, Siri won't display Web pages or provide graphics while in Eyes Free mode.
A steering wheel-based voice activation begins and ends sessions with Siri in Eyes Free mode, taking the place of the button on front of the iPhone. Drivers will be able to place voice-activated, hands-free calls to contacts on their iPhone; play any song in their iTunes library or switch between AM/FM or satellite radio to iPod mode. They can also compose and send text messages, access the Calendar and add appointments.
"It says a lot about our commitment to small-car customers that Chevrolet has announced that Siri Eyes Free capability will be available in the Spark and Sonic well before the luxury brands," said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director for small cars in a statement. "Safe, easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers, and Siri complements MyLink's existing capabilities to help deliver an incredible driving experience."
A Foot in the Door
Neil Shah, the senior wireless device analyst at Strategy Analytics, said the agreement sets the stage for Apple to further the Siri brand as motorists -- and their passengers -- seek more device integration and access to their media while on the road.
"This gives the 'foot in the door' for Apple to control the front-seat section in a car," Shah told us. "It gives Apple's "Siri" sub-brand an additional "stickiness" factor and space in consumer's and automotive OEM mind share.
"This could very well have a ripple effect for Apple, and many other automotive OEMs will also not want to lose out on such opportunity of associating their vehicle brand with the premium Apple brand, boosting their overall brand value. Apple iOS already is being used and has a great potential in the rear seating of a car."
Shah added that Google's Android platform is also strongly positioned to expand into automotive with its voice solutions, and at a lower cost since it uses open API's.
"Google's offering thus might find their way into mid- to high-tier automotive segments compared to Apple's and auto OEM's own voice solutions, which will be prevalent in more of premium-car models."