As part of a new initiative to branch out beyond its role as the connected safety arm of General Motors, OnStar plans to launch an application for Android-based smartphones that will allow drivers to send and receive text messages using voice commands. An OnStar subscription will be required in order to use the service.
The application is expected to be available as a public pilot test this month and will be rolled out via the Android Market later this year. In a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show, OnStar President Chris Preuss said he anticipates expanding to other smartphone platforms in the future, but that the company's immediate focus will be on Android phones. The app will use Bluetooth and voice-recognition software to allow hands-free text messaging and Facebook status updates.
OnStar also announced a series of prototype applications to run on Verizon's 4G smartphones. In addition to vehicle monitoring and related functions, the Verizon apps will include home-monitoring tools, such as remote control of security cameras and lighitng. OnStar has not yet announced plans to expand the Verizon apps beyond the prototype phase.
OnStar also announced that it will expand its traditional vehicle-protection services beyond General Motors, starting with a retail partnership with Best Buy. The new retail version of OnStar is expected to be available this spring. UPDATE: See "2011 CES: OnStar branches out from GM with aftermarket mirror, Android app" on CR's Cars blog for more details.