Google Android Phones May Truck with GM's OnStar

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-13

Google and General Motors may pair smartphones based on the Android operating system with GM's OnStar driver roadside assistance service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal's sources said the deal would allow users to access OnStar, which performs such tasks as automatically alerting emergency officials in the event of an accident, from their Android phone without having to be in their car.

In one scenario, the Journal said a person could find out information about their vehicle's maintenance needs through the Android phone, leveraging OnStar's vehicle diagnostics software. OnStar also provides turn-by-turn GPS navigation and hands-free calling.

Google declined to confirm the alleged partnership.

GM's goal with OnStar is to expand the platform's capabilities. OnStar President J. Christopher Preuss said on his Facebook account that OnStar would have big news next week. 

A Google-GM tie seems par for the course in the wake of Ford's aggressive moves in the emerging space for Web-enabling motor vehicles. Ford offers Sync, a Microsoft based application that lets drivers control the car's stereo by voice.

Ford also said that Sync will enable BlackBerry and Android smartphone users to control Websites such as Twitter and online radio service Pandora with voice commands in the Ford 2011 Fiesta model.

That Google would find ways to get Android into cars should come as no surprise.

The company's goal with the open source Android platform is to make it the central hub of users' mobile computing experience, powering anything from smartphones to tablet computers and set-top boxes.

Moreover, Google is not new to making software that helps motor vehicle drivers. The company shocked the industry last October by unveiling Google Maps Navigation, a free turn-by-turn GPS application loaded onto Android smartphones.

Owners of phones loaded with Android 1.6 and higher can take their phones in their cars with them, plug them into a docking station if they wish, and program them with directions.

eWEEK found the service is accurate on Android phones such as the Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One and HTC Droid Incredible.

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