General Motors announces Siri’s ‘Eyes Free’ feature coming to Chevy Sonic, Spark

June 20, 2012

The first General Motors Co. vehicles to utilize Apple’s personal assistant Siri are compact, gas-savers.

The Chevrolet Sonic and Spark will be GM’s first car to use a new feature called “Eyes Free,” which was introduced as part of iOS 6, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Eyes Free allows automakers to install a button on the steering wheel of a vehicle that would wake up Siri and let you send a text message, call contacts, change the music, launch apps, access Maps for turn-by-turn directions and more. The goal is to minimize distractions while driving.

In addition to GM, Apple is working with BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi Toyota, Chrysler and Honda.

It’s unclear if Apple has a list of vehicles that will feature Eyes Free. GM announced that its Sonic and Spark — fuel-efficient compact cars — will be the first to utilize it, not Apple. Both vehicles are expected to roll off the production line with the new steering wheel button within the year.

9to5 Mac reports that Eyes Free will be part of an entire hands-free package that when activated, will connect through Bluetooth. It’s expected to include some kind of microphone for making quick phone calls that will run through the car’s speaker system.

It’s important to note that Eyes Free just isn’t for the iPhone — it’s also available on the iPad, although you won’t be able to make phone calls.

CNET reports that the Spark and Sonic are already equipped with Chevy’s MyLink system, a system that integrated with a driver’s smartphone. MyLink is limited, however, to about 60 commands. (Ford Sync has about 10,000 commands.)

Depending on the popularity and success of Eyes Free, it’s unclear if GM would consider dropping their phone integration system altogether — or at least give customers an option.

The Chevy Sonic and Spark aren’t very attractive vehicles, but Siri will make them a little bit better.

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