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Siri to talk to Commodore drivers

Look, no hands: The addition of Siri to MyLink in the Barina CDX allows drivers to send or receive text messages without needing to touch their phones.

Holden matches Siri to Barina, while models including VF Commodore line up

26 Mar 2013

THE next time you talk to your Commodore, the car could answer back. Holden has confirmed that its next-generation version of the large family car will feature voice activation.

However, it won’t really be the car chatting to you. Instead, it will be Apple’s iPhone-based assistant, Siri, that will do all the talking.

Holden has confirmed the VF commodore, due in June, will include integration with Siri using the internet-based MyLink infotainment system that will eventually roll out across all Holden models.

MyLink has already rolled out in the city-friendly Holden Barina and Cruze small car, and includes a direct connection to the internet via a smartphone to stream music into the car – but no Siri.

“When we launched the (Barina), we said Siri was on its way,” Holden director of external communications, Craig Cheetham, said. “It's in the new Cruze we just launched and it will also be in Commodore.”Holden social media and digital communications manager Andrea Matthews said customers who bought a top-specification Barina CDX with the MyLink system fitted late last year were being contacted by the car-maker to advise them to go to a showroom to have Siri functionality added.

The update to Siri in the Barina CDX also includes access to Pandora and TuneIn internet radio, Stitcher Smart Radio and the BringGo low-cost sat-nav app.

Ms Mathews was unable to confirm whether MyLink would show up in the Barina-based Trax crossover that is expected mid year.

“We haven't confirmed MyLink for Trax yet,” she said. “We will confirm the details of what is coming on Trax closer to launch, that’s still a fair way away yet.

“But it’s fair to say that MyLink will roll out across most of the portfolio in the coming months.”Although sister brand Chevrolet has added Siri functionality to the US version of the Barina Spark city runabout, Ms Matthews said that Holden-badged versions would not be getting the voice-activated application.

Ms Matthews said the local car-maker intended to slowly roll-out MyLink to its model range over the next year with the updated Cruze small car the next cab off the rank. The mid-size Malibu due in Australia in the third quarter of the year will also feature the system.

“When (the facelifted) Cruze goes on sale, it's going to be the only small-car range that has a large touchscreen and that's a big feature of the MyLink system,” she said.

Ms Matthews confirmed that the Siri integration of MyLink will roll out in Cruze around May or June this year.

Siri's “Eyes Free” piggybacks on the cars MyLink system using an Apple iPhone. It allows the driver to perform a number of tasks while not diverting attention away from the road or removing hands from the wheel.

Drivers use the voice activation button on the steering wheel to connect and interact with Siri.

Eyes Free can then make calls, play songs, switch between the radio and iPod, compose and send, or listening to, text messages, and access calendars or appointments.

Ms Matthews said that driver safety was a key component of Siri, allowing drivers to focus on the road rather than what is happening on their phone.

“The big thing with Siri Eyes Free integration is that we know people do tend to use their phones in cars statistics show that,” she said.

“Something like Siri and the Eyes Free integration basically means that when you are using it and it is connected to one of our cars, your screen goes dark so there is no temptation for the screen to be flashing and for you even to be looking at your phone.”Ms Matthews said MyLink would be a big selling point for new-car buyers who valued connectivity as highly as performance and efficiency.

“Driveability, fuel economy and all of those kinds of things are really important for buyers but we believe we will see more buyers looking for integration with their phones and their online life,” Ms Matthews said.

“They expect to be connected wherever they are and we have a big focus on making sure we have that functionality in the cars. They can keep connected to the important bits of their life but also safely,” she said.

Holden’s US parent, General Motors, announced last month that it would roll out Siri into its Sonic and Spark light cars.

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