OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation
GM has announced a new feature to be available with some of their OnStar equipped vehicles. The new feature will allow drivers to call an OnStar operator and ask for audio directions. The directions will be downloaded to the vehicle and a computerized voice will guide the driver to their destination via voice.
An important note though….. there is currently no on-screen display. Have you ever tried navigating with your GPS navigation system by voice alone without looking at the screen? This can be very challenging even with the best GPS navigation systems I’ve tested. When the voice says “turn right on Main Street in 800 yards” and the street signs are not very visible figuring out which street is in 800 yards can be challenging. However looking at the map you can normally see “it is the second turn from where I am” for example.
You can watch a demo of the system here.
OnStar president Chet Huber said the new system is easy to use and safer than screen-based navigation because drivers never have to take their eyes off the road. It also will be less expensive than installing a navigation screen, which can cost between $1,500 (U.S.) and $3,000, he said. Directions are available in English, Spanish or French. “It will demystify the user interface with navigation,” Huber said. “It will be easy to use. Normal people will be able to get value out of it.”
I don’t see how a system could be easier to use because it provides more ambiguous information…. but hey…. I haven’t actually used it. I also wonder where Chet Huber is buying GPS navigation systems from. You can purchase basic GPS navigation systems for one-tenth the high price he quoted.
In fact, with the new OnStar system costing “less than $34.95 per month” you can probably purchase a great portable GPS navigation system with a screen for less money than a year of the OnStar service.
We are skeptical the system will be a huge success. However we would love to be proven wrong and can’t say for certain until we test it.