The GM Android car: coming soon?

Holy Android, Batman: Your Google-powered smartphone may soon be able to control your car.

Holy Android, Batman: Your Google-powered smartphone may soon be able to control your car.

Google is reportedly in talks to connect its Android operating system with General Motors' OnStar car service. If the early clues prove to be true, the Android-OnStar combination could pack a whole lot of power into the palm of your hand.

GM's OnStar Meets Google's Android

First, a disclaimer: Neither Google nor GM has directly confirmed any type of Android-OnStar arrangement thus far. I reached out to both companies this afternoon; a Google spokesperson declined to comment, and a rep from OnStar told me her team regularly has "conversations with other companies to discuss opportunities for collaboration" but that it had nothing "tangible" to announce at this time.

With that said, multiple sources are now reporting that an Android-powered OnStar is the real deal -- and a GM executive recently discussed a major OnStar relaunch plan that certainly could fit the bill.

So here's what we're hearing: Google and GM are working on a partnership that'd "link" Android-based cell phones to OnStar-enabled vehicles. Just today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the GM-Google deal would "add features to OnStar that consumers could control" with their Android phones.

That report lines up with an even more specific story published by Motor Trend magazine on Friday. The crew at Motor Trend claims the Android-OnStar alliance would offer similar features to Ford's MyFord Touch system -- things like dashboard-based phone controls, media playback, and navigation -- but it'd also take things a step further by allowing Android owners to remotely control their cars via their phones.

That's right: The Android-OnStar setup, according to Motor Trend, would let you unlock your doors, start up your engine, and adjust other in-vehicle settings simply by tapping a few keys on your phone's screen.

GM and OnStar's Future

Here's the part that makes this all seem even more plausible: In a recent interview with CNNMoney, OnStar President Chris Preuss confirmed that a new, souped-up version is OnStar is well in the works. Preuss said the OnStar edition set to debut with the Chevy Volt later this year "offers a glimpse" at the kind of features that are in store.

Then there's this sentence:

"'This year's OnStar relaunch involves a major technology push inside GM as well a partnership with a major outside technology company,' said Preuss, who declined to reveal who GM's partner is or exactly what they're doing."

Followed by this one:

"'There are still a few things we want to keep under our hats,' he said."

A tweet sent by Preuss last Friday also states that OnStar is working on multiple new apps, presumably for the same next-generation system.

So if the Google-GM deal is actually happening, when could we see the evidence? The Wall Street Journal report says OnStar will reveal some type of "significant news" next week. The gang from CNNMoney, meanwhile, expects OnStar to unveil its new system sometime this summer. And Motor Trend is putting its money on early 2011 for an OnStar-Android announcement.

It should only be a matter of time, then, until Steve Jobs denounces GM as "the automaker for porn fiends."

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He's on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

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JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
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