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You don’t need a smart phone

John Day

John Day

Posted Feb 23, 2011

I thought everybody but me had a smart phone but Tony Kraatz, lead engineer for GM’s new infotainment system, the Chevy MyLink, reminded me that, in fact, not everybody has one, so you won’t need one to use MyLink. Any Bluetooth phone or USB device will work, and if you don’t have either of those you can use the 7-inch color touch screen, steering wheel controls, or voice commands to control the radio, CD, HVAC, or other features.

Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio are available for those who do have a smart phone. Other apps will also be supported, but it’s too soon to say which ones, or how GM will make them available. MyLink and OnStar will be seamlessly integrated, and GM is testing new OnStar features including voice texting and Facebook status updates, but Kraatz says GM is following very strict development guidelines to avoid driver distraction.

Nuance provides voice technology for initiating phone calls or selecting radio stations or media from portable devices. Gracenote presents artist and genre information, including artists’ nicknames, and displays cover art on the screen.

Like other automotive infotainment systems, MyLink must be very simple to use, very responsive, and at the same time sophisticated enough to interest gadget fans. It also has to be flexible enough to accommodate whatever portable devices a customer might want to use during the life of the vehicle. “It’s intuitive at every level, for people just getting into technology and experienced people who want to customize it,” Kraatz says.

“MyLink supports any Bluetooth phone, any device with USB, and it combines with all the safety and security features of OnStar, and turn-by-turn navigation. You can’t find that package of features anywhere else,” Kraatz says.

MyLink will debut later this year on the Chevy Volt and Equinox. “This is a no-brainer step for Chevrolet and GM to be taking, and it looks like a good implementation,” says IHS iSuppli senior analyst Mark Boyadjis. “The question is how much it will cost.” Pricing won’t be available until nearer time for deployment.

IHS iSuppli, Gracenote, Infotainment, Bluetooth, turn-by-turn navigation, Chevrolet, Add new tag, Nuance, Chevy Volt, OnStar, GM, Chevy Equinox, Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher Internet radio, Chevy MyLink

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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