In early 2013, Chevrolet Spark and Chevy Sonic LTZ and RS models will integrate Apple's voice-activated Siri software into its Chevy MyLink smartphone-based infotainment system.(Photo: Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)
LOS ANGELES -- Tech-savvy drivers
who miss conversing with "Siri," the chatty electronic assistant built
into newer Apple iPhones, are about to get a big assist from General
GM says today that it has found a way to link Siri to the
new infotainment systems in its two smallest cars, Chevrolet Spark and
Sonic. Drivers will be able to continue their chats with voice-activated
Siri behind the wheel in order to perform the same tasks that they
usually do on their smartphone, from checking sports scores to phoning
friends. Only now, they will be able perform those functions while
keeping their eyes on the road at all times.
The new feature
underscores how automakers are struggling to incorporate the latest
developments in smartphones into their cars -- and run the risk of
having cars that feel outdated in a few years as technology marches on.
be overshadowed, Ford Motor announced improved voice recognition and
the ability to more easily pair to new smartphones in the infotainment
system that will be installed in its smallest and cheapest model, the
2014 version of the Fiesta.
Both automakers' announcements were
made as a prelude to the press preview of the big auto show in Los
Angeles, a metropolis that has some of the highest concentrations of
small-car sales in the nation. Both are bringing some of their latest
technology to their smallest and cheapest cars in a bid to lure more
Millennial buyers, the twentysomethings who can't get enough of all
Both GM and Ford are striving to make smartphones
easier to use in the car while reducing driver distraction. GM, for
instance, will let Apple iPhone users activate Siri's reassuring voice
with steering-wheel buttons. It's referring to the intelligent
assistant's extension to the car's MyLink infotainment system as "Siri
in Eyes Free" mode.
"'Siri in Eyes Free mode' will be available in
the Spark and Sonic well before the luxury brands," says Cristi Landy,
Chevrolet's 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."
is found on Apple 4S and 5 iPhones. But even those still stuck in the
dial-phone age are likely to know the Siri function from a blizzard of
Apple print and TV ads. On TV commercials, the Siri function is
demonstrated in by hip actors like Zooey Deschanel and Samuel L. Jackson
who ask it to play particular songs or help with a recipe.
make the most of its improved voice recognition in its MyFord Touch
system in the Fiesta, Ford is enlarging the car's center console screen
to 6.5 inches, up from 4 inches.
Drivers won't have to say as
many words to perform simple functions by voice command in the Fiesta,
Ford says. Instead of having to say the stilted "play genre jazz,"
drivers will be able to simply say "play jazz" when trying to get the
desired tunes out of their car stereos.
The new system will
"really help Fiesta stand out from the crowd," says Michelle Moody, Ford
cross-vehicle marketing manager, in a statement.