Chevrolet's Siri takes on Ford SYNC
Chevrolet and Ford are locked in a high-tech battle to create a small car that can understand voice commands, after Chevrolet beat the luxury car makers to become the first to install Apple's Siri voice control in its new Aveo supermini.
The U.S. brand plans to use the technology in several of its cars from 2014 but perennial rival Ford is already one step ahead, declaring the new 2013 Ford Fiesta - an Aveo rival - will use its own brand of voice control from next year.
It's parallel to both manufacturers' heyday. GM and Ford have strived to outdo each other for the best part of a century.
It used to be the Camaro vs. the Mustang, or GM and Ford point-scoring through Super Bowl ads. Now, GM and Ford are taking the fight in-car in a bid to win over buyers, and crown themselves the champions of customer connectivity.
MotorTorque takes a look at how each system stacks up:
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
Chevrolet yesterday announced the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. It is expected to go global and promises a fantastic range complemented by best-in-class acceleration and two seven-inch high-res LCD screens.
One of the more important announcements though was Chevrolet announcing that the car will be the first ever to connect to Apple's Siri technology. This feature will also be available in the Chevrolet Aveo.
Drivers with an iPhone 4S or later (compatible with iOS 6) will be able to connect their phone to the car's MyLink infotainment system via Bluetooth. Drivers can then interact with Siri via Eyes Free mode - a voice activation button on the steering wheel that begins and ends sessions with the iPhone.
It opens up a world of benefits to drivers. People will be able to make calls on their phone hands-free, compose text messages, add appointments to calendars, play songs via iTunes and more.
Chevrolet has also included the safety element into the car's design. Siri won't be able to answer questions that require the user to navigate a web page.
Smaller issues have also been catered for - to minimise distraction and to keep drivers' eyes on the road, the iPhone won't light up in certain situations when connected to Siri.
It's a clever move from Chevrolet. An car that caters perfectly to the mass of iPhone users out there that want an affordable, small, eco-conscious car.
The Spark EV will go on sale in the U.S. from summer next year, and is expected to go global shortly after.
The 2013 Ford Fiesta
Chevrolet's MyLink system was a welcome surprise yesterday, and flew directly in the face of Ford's SYNC technology available in the new Fiesta, which the manufacturer has been lauding all year long.
Ford SYNC will be available in the new Ford Fiesta, with its Emergency Assist function already winning praise from bodies such as the AA.
It's a brilliant option for people driving abroad. SYNC Emergency Assistance is available as standard as part of the overall SYNC in-car connectivity system, and is able to alert local emergency services operators (it's installed with 26 languages) should an accident ever occur.
In practical terms that means if you crash your car in Greece and don't know what to do, Emergency Assist will contact local authorities and let them know, in their own language, where you are.
It's incredibly practical and more intricate than any other type of in-car emergency system currently available. Ford says that 75 per cent of Europeans have travelled by car in countries where they would have been unable to make an emergency services call in the local language - could Siri do that?
Overall, Ford SYNC is an impressive piece of kit, which is already available in models such as the B-Max. Powered by Microsoft Windows, SYNC can control Mobile and MP3 devices through voice-activated technology, read text messages aloud, update contact lists and more.
We're edging toward Ford's SYNC technology at MotorTorque, simply because the Emergency Assist function is a potentially life-saving feature. What would you prefer in a sticky situation abroad... tech that can automatically contact local services in their own language or your iPhone?
But maybe we're underestimating drivers' love for the iPhone. Apple's iOS 6 has been out for a good while now, and a massive amount of people have a healthy iTunes library to choose songs from. Apple's current global status may be key in turning the heads of buyers toward the new Spark EV when it's released.
One thing's for sure, it's another intriguing chapter in the battle between Ford and GM.
Round 1 though, according to us, goes to the Fiesta.
Written by John Meadowcroft