General Motors Co. is testing software that would let drivers talk to their cars to update status messages on the Facebook social media website, as well as listen to Facebook messages, the company said Wednesday.
The verbal updates would be made through GM's OnStar safety network and are part of the automaker's effort to use the OnStar brand to better compete with rival Ford Motor Co. in auto information and entertainment.
GM also is testing a feature that would read cellular telephone text messages to drivers and allow them to respond by picking one of four preset replies with a button on the steering wheel, GM said in a statement.
GM won't say when the features might make their way into its vehicles, but spokeswoman Jocelyn Allen said they must be evaluated thoroughly to make sure they don't distract drivers from paying attention to the road.
The automaker will announce soon that the OnStar brand will be used for high-tech radios, navigation systems and other dashboard electronics that will compete with Ford's Sync system by Microsoft.
OnStar, known mainly for its safety feature that calls for help in case of a crash in which air bags are deployed, is free on most GM vehicles for the first year, then costs $199 per year for a basic service and $299 for service that comes with turn-by-turn navigation and other features.