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Holden bakes Siri into Barinas

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General Motors' antipodean outpost, Holden, is trying to put a bit of cool into its four-cylinder shopping trolley, the Barina, by integrating Siri into its electronics.

Well, not just cool: with a suitable iPhone running iOS 6 connected to its electronic innards, Siri will let drivers make “eyes-free” calls, and to avoid distraction, even the console will be prevented from lighting up. A button on the steering wheel will activate and deactivate Siri.

As the car maker's press release puts it: “Holden Barina CDX owners can use Siri in Eyes Free mode to make voice-activated, hands-free calls to contacts on their iPhone, listen to, and compose and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or anyone in saved contacts and access the calendar to add appointments, among other things”.

Launched with the “Stitcher” embedded app, Holden says the integrated Siri can also be expanded with Pandora Internet radio, BringGo navigation, and TuneIn radio apps, all available from iTunes and Google Play. All are free with the exception of BringGo, which costs 99 cents for a 30-day trial or $59.95 for a full app.

While this arrangement may sound silly to some readers, the Australian State of New South Wales last year made it illegal to even touch a mobile phone while in a moving car. The Barina/Siri setup will therefore appeal to some buyers.

It may also mislead others, given Apple's infamous maps SNAFU that saw the town of Mildura placed in the middle of a desert. Vulture South expects it won't be long before some hapless driver asks Siri if Mildura really should be a patch of sand occupied only by kangaroos. ®

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