What could be a blow to Google will likely turn solid gold for Apple. General Motors introduced the first two cars that will integrate voice assist search technology Siri and search engine Safari.
The next version of the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic LTZ and RS, which will roll into dealerships in 2013, were showcased at the Los Angeles International Auto Show Tuesday.
Siri will allow consumers to make voice-activated, hands-free calls to Contacts on their iPhone, play songs in the iTunes library and switch between music sources automatically from AM/FM/XM radio to iPod, send email or text messages, and access calendars and add appointments through what GM calls the "Eye Free Mode."
Scott Fosgard, technology and product development communications manager at GM, makes it clear the technology will not provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a Web page. The Eyes Free mode will block more complex activities that might create a distraction and cause a motorist to look at the phone or the car’s video screen.
"A button on the steering wheel will allow consumers to access Siri," Fosgard said.
No word on the future of advertising in the Siri app, but audio ads seem likely with Siri Vice President Bill Stasior at the helm since October. Stasior once ran Amazon's A9 search and advertising business unit.
Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota also are working with Apple to add Siri capability. The intent to integrate the technology was originally announced in June. The feature competes with Ford Motor Co.'s Sync feature from Microsoft.
Siri will connect to MyLink through the vehicles' Bluetooth technology. The three models aim to appeal to tech-savvy youth, but Siri could integrate later into other models. GM estimates as much as 90% of their buyers have smartphones.
Both model cars, Spark and Sonic, will come with six months of OnStar’s premium directions and connections service.