Chevrolet has revealed that the 2013 versions of its Sonic and Spark vehicles have been updated today to support Apple’s Siri personal assistant through its exclusive MyLink software.

Provided they’re running iOS 6, car owners will be able to make voice-activated, hands-free calls to contacts listed on their iPhone, as well as access their calendar and add appointments.

Chevrolet MyLink is an interactive, touchscreen panel that sits at the front of the vehicle where the car radio used to be. As a result, it’s only fair that Chevrolet Sonic and Spark owners will also be able to play songs from their iTunes library and also switch from their own device to AM, FM, XM radio stations through Siri.

Siri’s voice recognition software and ability to read data aloud really comes into its own though with text messages. Users can write and send a message – either through iMessage or a standard text message – to any phone number saved in their contacts. Even better though is that Siri will also read messages out to you as you’re driving, ensuring that you’re always concentrating on the road and not squinting at a tiny screeen in your lap.

mylink 730x394 Apples Siri added to the Chevrolet Sonic and Spark through MyLink integration

To access Siri and this hands-free functionality, users first need to connect their iPhone with the MyLink radio through a Bluetooth connection. After pairing with the system, users can start and end a Siri request by tapping the voice activation button found on the steering wheel.

What it means

The integration between these two services is a huge leap forward for iPhone owners, as it offers hands-free functionality from the hardware manufacturers themselves. There’s no third-party apps, car radios or bluetooth headsets to worry about in order to take advantage of these new features.The idea was first revealed by General Motors last November, and later showed off at CES last month. The firm is touting the integration of Siri as a safety feature, putting particular emphasis on the Eyes Free mode, which essentially offers Siri while stopping the handset’s screen from lighting up.

It’s a nice idea – we’re all for road safety and avoiding unwanted distractions in the car here at TNW – but the real progress is simply adding robust voice commands to the vehicles that we use on a daily basis. If I’m staring at a paper map on the side of the road and hear a call incoming, it’s nice to know that I can pick it up without dropping what I’m doing and rummaging around in the glove box for my iPhone. Likewise, just being able to call out a song I want to listen to, rather than have someone else fiddle around with a car radio they’re not familiar with is a nice idea, in concept.

Apple announced its plans to integrate Siri into a number of different car manufacturers back at WWDC 2012. BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Audi and Hyundai are also involved with the scheme alongside General Motors – late last month Honda announced it would be adding Siri support to its 2013 Honda Accord, as well as the Acura RDX and ILX models as a dealer-installed option.

Image Credit: © General Motors