GM’s Connected Cars Are Mobile Hotspots - Radio World

GM’s Connected Cars Are Mobile Hotspots

There’s an app for that and then some — and radio hasn’t been forgotten
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credit: @GMC General Motors has an all-of-the-above strategy for connecting its cars, trucks and crossovers to the outside world. If your communication needs include unlocking a locked door, connecting a Bluetooth equipped phone, crushing some candy on a mobile device, streaming a video or listening to “traffic reports on the 8s,” the latest generation of Chevrolets, Buicks, Cadillacs and GMC vehicles handle that in the same way they handle the road ahead.

Basic connection for a vehicle like the Chevrolet Impala LT, which I drove recently, includes an interface to vehicle information, optional navigation, apps like Pandora and Stitcher and the most popular in-dash application, radio, whether that be AM, FM, HD channels and/or XM Satellite Radio. Chevy calls that MyLink; Buick and GMC Trucks call the interface Intellilink and Cadillac calls it the Cue system.

ONSTAR

The interface also connects with the OnStar network, which provides vehicle diagnostics, directions, crash reporting and vehicle unlocking service, in addition to prepaid telephone calling over the OnStar network. The magic happens when 4G-LTE data connectivity is added to the existing OnStar network, effectively turning each vehicle so equipped into a mobile hotspot. That is in keeping with GM’s belief that the connected car has three elements: A built-in element (like the Chevy MyLink); a brought-in element (like mobile phone apps) and a beamed-in element (the OnStar data connection).

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credit: @GMCcredit: @GMC

With OnStar, 4G LTE is an additional subscription-based service, giving Internet data access to subscribers on the OnStar network. The OnStar and 4G-LTE connectivity are featured on virtually all GM cars and trucks sold in the U.S. The system is rated to connect up to seven devices wirelessly. That’s good if driver and passengers have Apple iOS and Android devices, as in my recent test; two smartphones and an iPad posed no problem. To connect, one simply punches up the OnStar option on the vehicle menu and enters the connection credentials in the appropriate device when the device software calls for it. OnStar has monthly subscriptions for various data consumption levels; the least expensive of those (250 MB/month) will cost around $5 per month.

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2016 Chevrolet Malibu as seen at the New York International Auto Show
credit: Paul KaminskiHere’s the home screen for the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system.
credit: Paul Kaminski

IOS AND ANDROID

GMC worked with both Apple Car Play and Android Auto to develop future applications and functionality as one of the leaders in the Open Automotive Alliance. The company has begun rollout of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across many of its 2016 model year vehicles. The Corvette was the first sold with Apple CarPlay. So far, in total, both CarPlay and Android Auto systems are rolling out across 14 Chevrolet models, five GMCs, two Buicks and nine Cadillacs.

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This is the menu screen for the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system.
credit: Paul KaminskiThe 2015 Chevrolet Impala LT sedan comes with 4G LTE wireless data access installed.
credit: Paul Kaminski

It will also continue to support HD reception capability; that support will depend on customer choice and demand.

GM’s point man on connected car issues is John McFarland, the director of global markets and innovation, whose Global Connected Customer Experience Group is in his words, “responsible for the future of the connected car.”

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Typical radio screen for the MyLink system in the 2015 Chevrolet Impala.
credit: Paul Kaminski That future includes radio.

“Radio is highly contextual in the car. For us, as we look to target and drive connected solutions, while you are in the car is an ideal time to reach you with a message.”

The MyLink and OnStar connection yields a lot of data; more with some of the streaming audio apps. That helps to focus the message that McFarland wants to deliver. He says, “As radio continues to evolve, as a marketing director at GM, I’ll be looking to understand what are the ways I can leverage that medium to give contextually relevant, driving related automotive related messages to the right person in the car.”

Paul Kaminski is a longtime Radio World contributor and columnist, and host of msrpk.com’s Radio-Road-Test program. Tweet to/follow him @msrpk_com; follow him on Periscope and search for him on SoundCloud (radioroadtest).

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