Updating our Facebook status is becoming a habitual practice in front of your computer and on your mobile device. So why not in a car? The Chevrolet Cruze, in partnership with OnStar, is one of several Chevrolet vehicles beta testing a program that allows drivers to update their Facebook status using voice commands. The program also lets drivers listen to their latest messages from their Facebook wall while sitting in their car. So being the one of billions who has a Facebook page, we jumped at the chance to test drive this new feature in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, along with the OnStar app .
In the past I have equated OnStar with those commercials that always depict people in some type of hazardous situation and are in need of help. With the press of a button in your car, a savior would come and vocally help you unlock your door or call the police etc… However, with the OnStar MyLink App for the iPhone and Android, OnStar becomes not only a magic button in your car, but in your pocket too.
Installing the App on my iPhone took really next to nothing. You can go to iTunes and download it directly from App Store. Once you get the App going in your iPhone, you will need to enter in your login/password information, this will link the app to your car or in our case the Chevrolet Cruze. Once the App is running, you can use it to start the car from the street, unlock the doors (which is perfect for cold weather days), and even check how much gas you have left in the car.
The OnStar MyLink App was super easy to use and also offers the option to remotely honk the horn or flash the car’s lights. If you feel uneasy in a dark parking lot, this could help shoo away any potential perp from bothering you.
However, the OnStar MyLink App will not connect you to the Facebook feature. This will require a few steps first. The main one being that you have to link your Facebook account, to OnStar, for your Facebook wall to receive the updates you make to it. You’ll also have to enter in your membership information on the OnStar page to activate the Facebook feature on OnStar. Once I got through the necessary steps, I pressed the hands-free button in the Cruz and listened to my options, and I then shouted out “Virtual Advisor.” If you don’t say Virtual Advisor first, you will not get to the Facebook option. After saying Virtual Advisor, I then said “Facebook” and was prompted with whether or not I wanted to “Update my Status” or listen to my “News Feed.” First I tried updating my Facebook status verbally. The status update ends up being just an audio recording that is sent to your Facebook wall, for all of your pals to listen too. Next I tried using OnStar to listen to my Facebook News Feed. The system read my News Feed out loud to me. The reading experience is pretty robotic at times, and it often sounded like a bad automated machine, but nonetheless it was entertaining to hear what my peeps were up too as I drove around. Overall, the Facebook integration with OnStar works pretty flawlessly, and the only hindrance I experienced was that I did have to speak up quite a bit to be understood by the Virtual Advisor.
As much as OnStar and Chevrolet are pushing this new feature as being safe, we still think that this could be distracting while driving around. That said, it’s also easier to update your status while parked or idling, but News Feeds are fine to listen to as you are driving – it’s kind of comparable to listening to the radio. However, if you get emotionally invested in what is in your news feed, then you may want to hang out on the side of the road to listen, as to not evoke aggressive driving in case your girlfriend or boyfriend updates their status with something that isn’t too appealing. Regardless, this new OnStar feature helps successfully bring Facebook within your reach, no matter where you go, but again, always drive safely.
Lastly, I just wanted to touch upon the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze we got to test along with this experience. The car itself provides a very smooth ride and we were are also impressed with its interiors. We aren’t car aficionados by any means but it was well equipped, comfy, and provided a nice ride. For what is typically known as a more compact vehicle, the 2011 Cruze certainly has the chops of being a midsize car. And with the addition of the OnStar features… that makes for a pretty sweet ride.
The Good: OnStar makes updating your Facebook Status and listening to your news feed a breeze while on the road. The Onstar MyLink App mobile is easy to use and convenient – especially on cold days or while walking through dimly lit parking areas.
The Bad: Updating your Facebook status and interacting with the Virtual Advisor was easier while parked. While driving, the Virtual Advisor didn’t always understand what I was saying unless I spoke quite loudly – which could be annoying to others in the car with you. You have to log in each time you use the MyLink App and that can be very tedious.