A decade ago, Facebook didn’t even exist. Today, it seems indispensable. The final proof came Monday when Mercedes Benz announced it would be putting a Facebook app in some of its 2013 models. It will be only one feature of the automaker’s new in-vehicle telematics system. The system is slated to be unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A driver-friendly Facebook
For the last six months, Mercedes has been working on the Facebook application in a collaborative spirit with the social networking pioneer. The result is a stripped down, driver-friendly version of Facebook.
Coming to 2013 models
The streamlined Facebook will first be made available in the 2013 SL-Class Mercedes, coming in the spring. After that, all new Mercedes models will have the feature.
Dan Rose, Vice President of Partnerships and Platform Marketing for Facebook, told Reuters:
“Now that cars have screens that are intelligent, you would expect that more and more car manufacturers will want to make those screens capable of allowing people to connect with their friends and take advantage of the social context that comes along with that. One of the core things that people do on their screens in the car is GPS navigation and the ability to see which of your friends are nearby is something we think will be really interesting for people.”
Friend locations and businesses
The pared-down version of Facebook is centered on friend locations and businesses. Drivers can access lists of nearby friends or businesses they have “Liked” at a touch.
Keyboard disabled when in motion
Because of the inherent safety issues, any post into Facebook that requires keying is disabled if the car is in motion. However, the app allows pre-written messages to be sent with a few taps of the screen. In addition, drivers are not able to play online games; it disallows third-party apps.
Some will still no doubt worry about the app causing driver distraction. Robert Policano, a Product manager for Mercedes, says the interaction required for the Facebook app is no more distracting than operating a normal car radio or in-vehicle GPS navigation system.
New telematics system
Facebook is only one feature of Mercedes’ new in-vehicle mbrace2 telematics system. The in-board system features a high-res screen and a high-speed wireless Internet connection. It will also allow drivers access to apps like Google and Yelp at the turn of a knob.