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Satnav-murdering Google slips its Maps into car dashboards

If you must have fleshy drivers at least we can tell them where to go

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Hyundai and Kia will be dropping Google Maps into dashboards of their US models, demonstrating the integration next week. The cars will hit the showrooms next year.

Google Maps and Google Places will find space in the 2014 Sorento CUV from Kia while Hyundai will integrate the apps into its Blue Link platform used across the range. Both companies will join Audi and Daimler who are now taking the technology even further by putting Google Street View into the dash.

But it's Google Places which is most important to the search giant, as that enables drivers to ask for a petrol station or coffee shop and be directed to one recommended by the Googleplex, and getting into cars is vitally important in capturing that market.

Such cars need connectivity too, to support cloudy voice recognition as well as streamed maps, but embedded telephony is becoming normal (indeed, legally mandated across the EU by 2015) and car manufacturers are just as keen to become providers of ongoing services (at ongoing cost) as everyone else.

Privacy implications are easily addressed by noting that drivers with a smartphone are already being tracked unless they've jumped through the requisite hoops to switch off such tracking, and even then their network operator still knows their every move unless they pop the battery out, so there aren't really any additional concerns here.

There is a question as to the value of dashboard satnav these days, when the aforementioned smartphone is so capable. Buy a new Land Rover and the dashboard-embedded screen will echo one's smartphone (as long as it's not an iPhone), making car-based satnav redundant.

So the window of opportunity for car manufacturers is shrinking, and it's not surprising to see them upping their offerings to establish themselves before screen-copying enables Google to go straight past them to the driver, until Google can get rid of that driver completely. ®

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