2012 Chevy Volt And Equinox To Gain Pandora Radio Streaming, More

It took automakers quite a long time to finally realize that consumers really adore having technology in their cars. Not just basic stuff like power windows and locks, but more advanced stuff like iPod support, Bluetooth calling and touchscreen navigation units. Chevrolet and Ford have both been pushing technology a lot over the past year or so, and Chevy in particular has been angling to hit that social networking sweet spot that attracts so much attention these days.

The 2012 Chevy Volt and Equinox are gearing up to be two of the more sophisticated rides of the new year, with Chevy's MyLink system at the forefront of that revolution. Coupled with OnStar (which can now read back Facebook updates), this new MyLink system will be available on vehicles that go on sale later in 2011. It'll be the first in-car infotainment system to offer Pandora Internet Radio and Stitcher SmartRadio using hands-free voice and touch-screen controls via Bluetooth device connectivity. Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing, made some good points about the innovations: "There is a new generation of car buyers who don’t want to settle for mass market radio. They want to create their own individual stations and have access to them wherever they are. Chevrolet vehicles have offered customers the ability to use portable media devices since 2006 and the introduction of MyLink takes media personalization to a new level."

MyLink adds stereo audio streaming and wireless control of smartphones, building on the voice-activated Bluetooth hands-free calling capability already offered in most Chevy vehicles. MyLink also includes a seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color touch screen display that makes media selection easy to navigate. It also includes many of the basics: AM/FM/XM tuners, CD player with MP3 playback, auxiliary and USB inputs.

The great part is that neither of these vehicles are high-end cars, meaning that this technology has finally worked its way down into a vehicle that will appeal to lots of families. Here's hoping the trend spreads even further as 2012 approaches, and let's remind each other ahead of time to keep our eyes and ears pointed at the road. Lame, sure, but it's a useful PSA!

Among the new benefits provided by MyLink:

    * Enhanced hands-free voice control system powered by Nuance®, which allows simple voice commands to initiate phone calls and select radio stations or media from portable MP3 players and smartphones.  A tap of a button on the steering wheel enables intuitive verbal control of smartphone applications like “play (artist name)” or “call (name of contact)” to keep the driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
    * Pandora® internet radio allows users to create personalized radio stations based on favorite artists or genres and Stitcher SmartRadio® enables access to thousands of audio programming choices allowing customers to build a personalized listening experience. MyLink integrates control of both of these apps for a driver directed listening experience.
    * Gracenote®: identifies the music collection on the driver’s smartphone or MP3 player and presents information such artist name, genres and album cover art on the MyLink screen and enables users to select similar music to the tunes they love. Gracenote also improves the accuracy of MyLink’s voice activation system by allowing users to access music using artist nicknames, such as “The Boss,” “G.N.R,” or “The Fab Four” simply by using MyLink’s touch-screen or steering wheel buttons and voice control interfaces.
    * Upgraded USB connectivity: While Chevrolet has offered auxiliary device connectivity since 2006, MyLink adds flash memory capability to its USB device connections.  This provides users with the ability to access approved applications that will make their MyLink system even more functional, while assuring that driver’s maintain eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.   

The debut of Chevy MyLink extends the OnStar experience from safety and security to information and entertainment by seamlessly integrating the capability of a smartphone into the vehicle so that hand-held phones may be safely stowed while driving.