Honda has just unveiled its new HondaLink in-vehicle connectivity system that is set to debut this fall in the 2013 Accord and Crosstour.
The new service sees the Japanese automaker partnering with Harman, and will feature the first OEM application from the company’s Aha service. HondaLink will integrate through your smartphone and require drivers to download the app on either an Apple or Android phone and pair their device via Bluetooth .
While we haven’t had a chance to try out HondaLink for ourselves, the system sounds like it’s shaping up to be quite the experience. Hot off the heels of the auto manufacturer’s webinar, we came away with high hopes and renewed confidence for the future of in-car infotainment systems.
Part of that optimism stems from Honda’s approach to its connected car system. Unlike Ford’s MyFord Touch and Chyrsler’s UConnect, HondaLink will be entirely cloud-based. A large part of Honda’s presentation focused on approachability and ease of use. The system allows drivers to preset content before they enter the car through the integrated smartphone app. And because it’s cloud-based, HondaLink bypasses the need for frequent and frustrating software updates. Instead, everything is kept up to date via the application downloaded on your smartphone.
Drivers can access their favorite online content and entertainment feeds, as well as Internet music services such as Slacker and personalized location-based restaurant listings via Yelp! through an audio-based interface. Social media junkies will appreciate the ability to have your Facebook and Twitter feeds read aloud via the system’s voice reading feature. But in an effort to reduce driver distractions, more involved operations, like updating your Facebook and spying on exes, will not be supported.
“HondaLink will enable customers to put away their phone and still stay connected to the people, music and media they love,” said Vicki Poponi, assistant vice president of product planning for American Honda. “By creating an intuitive and customizable user interface, HondaLink allows drivers to access digital content as easily as choosing a radio station.”
Of course, anyone who has had even the slightest history with voice controls knows that the experience can be painstakingly frustrating. On top of voice recognition, consumers have access to both steering-wheel mounted in dash audio controls.
Honda has yet to release details regarding what trim levels the cloud-connected service will be available with, but the app and service itself are free. Smartphone users will want to make sure their data plans are up to snuff, however, considering all the content that will be delivered through the phone.
We asked Honda if we would be seeing integration into other smart devices such as tablets, and it seems iPad optimization is currently being worked on.