'13 Sparks will be dialling tunes
TECHNOLOGY AND CARS: 2013 will see the Chevrolet Spark with an advanced infotainment system.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - They may be small cars but future Chevrolet Sparks and Sonics will pack a world of infotainment choices with the addition of streaming audio powerhouse TuneIn and its global network of 70 000 stations.
Chevrolet demonstrated TuneIn's capability at the January 2013 Consumer Electronics Show here in a 2014 Spark EV. The next Spark range is due to be launched in South Africa shortly.
TuneIn is enabled through a smartphone app compatible with the standard MyLink Radio on uplevel Spark and Sonic models and is supposed to give customers all over the world access to global, personalised infotainment controlled through their car's radio. For instance, a customer living in Chicago can dial in a talk radio show in Africa or one in South Korea can listen to his favorite electronic music station in Europe or jazz station in New Orleans.
MyLink is currently standard on the 2013 Spark LT and Sonic RS and LTZ models. It is available on the 2013 Sonic LS and LT. MyLink will be standard on the 2014 Spark EV when it goes on sale in the middle of 2013.
Cristi Landy, director for Chevrolet small cars and electric vehicles, said: "We listened to customers around the world when we developed MyLink for the Spark and Sonic and we believe TuneIn will be a big hit with those who crave customised connectivity and entertainment.
"Our Spark and Sonic buyers will have a fantastic solution for tuning to their favourite radio stations from around the world."
TuneIn is one of three new smartphone app-based features expected to be available later in 2013 year for MyLink-equipped Sparks and Sonics. Others are BringGo (a full-function navigation system) and Siri, Apple's "intelligent" assistant (for customers with a compatible iPhone running iOS 6) that allows drivers to get things done just by asking. (Customers should consult their dealer and check the Chevrolet website for updates on when these features will be available.)
Two other embedded apps, Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio, were included with MyLink when it debuted in the Spark and Sonic.
To access TuneIn through the MyLink Radio, a customer needs to download the free TuneIn Radio app to a compatible smartphone and connect the phone with MyLink for safe, seamless connectivity to live local, international and internet radio. Users can search for programming by location, genre, sports team name, station type or call sign.
Landy added: "TuneIn will add another dimension to Spark and Sonic infotainment choices and demonstrate the ability to continually expand and update MyLink capabilities with new smartphone apps."
How MyLink Radio for Spark and Sonic works:
The Spark's MyLink Radio functions as an extension of the owner's compatible iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. MyLink also supports phones with the Symbian operating system from Nokia and certain phones with the Windows Mobile operating system from Microsoft.
Owners connect their customised music libraries, contacts, videos and photos with the radio using their smartphone and the vehicle's Bluetooth, plug or USB. Then they select from options show on the car's colour touch-screen: Audio, Pictures & Movies, Phone, Smartphone Link, Settings.
Each menu selection takes the user though a list of functions while the smartphone is safely stowed.
Siri Eyes-Free Mode: Spark and Sonic customers with a compatible iPhone* running iOS 6 can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Owners will simply connect their iPhone with the MyLink radio via Bluetooth, pair with the system, and use the steering-wheel voice activation button to begin and end sessions with Siri in its Eyes-Free mode.
In MyLink-equipped Sparks and Sonics, owners will be able to use Siri in Eyes-Free mode to:
• Make voice-activated, hands-free calls to contacts on their iPhone.
• Play songs from their iTunes library and switch music sources through AM/FM/XM radio to iPod modes.
• Listen to, compose and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or anyone in saved Contacts.
• Access Calendar and add appointments.
• Keep the screen of the iPhone from lighting up, even when Siri answers simple questions such as game scores or the dates of national holidays.
• While in Eyes-Free mode, Siri will NOT provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a web page.
* Siri is available in Beta only on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad (third and fourth-generation), iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation) and requires internet access. Siri may not be available in all languages or in all areas and features may vary by area. Cellular data charges may apply.
The BringGo embedded smartphone app for MyLink in the Spark and Sonic will have access to:
• Emergency information such as police, fire and the nearest hospital.
• Thousands of points of interest, such as the nearest department store, restaurant by type, repair shop, etc.
• Local Search via Google.
• Where am I? locator.
• Live traffic functionality for select crash reports, lane closures and alternative routes.
• 3-D maps.
• Ability to calculate remaining miles of electric range.
• Ability to store native maps to the customer's smartphone, giving them access to locations and turn-by-turn directions even when phone signal quality is poor. Many GPS-enabled apps do not do this.
All Sparks and Sonics will have six months of OnStar's premium Directions and Connections service standard. OnStar brings added safety, security and connectivity to these vehicles, including services such as Automatic Crash Response, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostics and Roadside Assistance.