The OnStar mobile apps that were announced earlier this summer have finally made their way to the market. As of now, Cadillac and Chevrolet owners can download apps for their iPhone, iPod and Android mobile devices that will allow them to remotely interact with their vehicle and with the OnStar service even when outside of their automobiles. Buick and GMC editions of the apps will launch shortly, no later than the first half of November.
General Motors is using the 'myBrand' terminology to label the apps, (myChevrolet, myCadillac, etc). A general application, known as OnStar MyLink also joins the suite of division-specific software, and it is applicable to automobiles from each of the four automakers. All five apps are completely free to download and install.
Despite their separate naming and branding schemes, the apps provide essentially identical features and services for their users. The 'myBrand' series of apps do not require an OnStar subscription in order to be useful - all drivers have to do is use their mobile device's camera to take a picture of their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get started. This opens up a trove of information about the vehicle in question, searchable on the digital device that is being used. Data provided by this particular feature includes owner's manual information, frequently asked questions about the vehicle and a lexicon of indicator lights and dashboard warning symbols.
The myChevrolet, myCadillac, myBuick and myGMC apps also offer integration with a vehicle's installed GPS locator. Drivers can use the software to mark the location of their vehicle on a map to make it easier to find after it has been parked. Other parking features include a stopwatch that can be synched with the amount of time remaining on the meter, as well as the ability to make notes about a particular parking spot in either text or photographic form. The GPS feature also enables vehicle owners to find the nearest dealership, as well as contact roadside assistance services and send the automobile's exact location - an especially useful feature if the car or truck in question is no longer operable.
The OnStar MyLink app forms a bridge between the 'myBrand' series of apps and a driver's OnStar account. OnStar subscribers can take advantage of remote starting, remote locking and unlocking and remote diagnostic features, all sent through their smart phone. The diagnostic abilities of the MyLink app are particularly extensive, offering information such as tire pressure and fuel level, the driving range based on the contents of the gas tank, the life of the oil in the engine and the average miles per gallon seen by the automobile since it was last started.
General Motors has debuted this suite of mobile apps in an effort to combat the market share enjoyed by the Ford SYNC system, which is a free software interface that provides drivers with extensive connectivity options between mobile devices and vehicle systems. The GM apps also add value to the OnStar service, which is a subscription-based, fee-charging addition to all General Motors automobiles that is facing stiff competition from the free software service efforts of a number of different automakers.