OnStar's Text-to-Speech App Reads Your Texts

Ask most people about texting while driving and they’ll tell you that it’s irresponsible and stupid. Still, people do it. Whether they say it was an emergency, or that they were stopped at a traffic light not two seconds ago and just wanted to finish sending that one message, there are a lot of people out there who text while they drive.

OnStar knows people like this exist and are on our roads. In fact, the company cites a Pew research study in reporting that 42 percent of drivers have admitted to texting while driving. In an effort to please everyone, the company has just announced a text-to-speech voice communications app that allows you to receive and send texts without ever taking your hands off the wheel.  

The app converts incoming SMS text messages and Facebook updates from text to synthetic speech, then sends them via Bluetooth to your car's speakers. You can then choose to respond to your messages with one of several generic messages, such as, ‘yes,’ ‘no’ or ‘driving,’ or, if you really, really need to respond right then and there, there’s also the option for custom responses; this works like regular speech-to-text software in that it transcribes your message for you. These custom messages can also be posted as audio clips to Facebook.

Unfortunately this nifty app isn’t available to just any OnStar user. No, this one is Android 2.2 (and higher) only. No word on when the app will actually be available so you’ll just have to continue restraining yourself from texting while driving for now.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.

  • coolvoodoo
    I can do that now on my Droid 2 (Froyo) with Motospeak or DriveSafe.ly and my Motorola H17 bluetooth. It can read you your text messages and/or email. It works really well most of the time. You can even send back a prewritten auto response if you want, although I find that that just confuses people most of the time....
  • loomis86
    I text one handed while riding my harley drunk and smoking a cigar without a helmet and no mufflers. But only when I'm not doing a wheelie.
  • adamboy64
    loomis86I text one handed while riding my harley drunk and smoking a cigar without a helmet and no mufflers. But only when I'm not doing a wheelie.
    Oh man. I'd pay to see this.
  • failmouse
    Handcent already does this for all Android devices :) no point hyping up some tech that's already available :P
  • 11796pcs
    Cool, also this spam is getting out of control.
  • razor512
    the only problem is people rarely write in a normal language

    it is mostly a weird shorthand version of words that a text to speech cant read and instead will resort to spelling them out making messages really hard to understand.
  • razor512
    11796pcsCool, also this spam is getting out of control.

    the spam is due to the registration process of not having an effective captcha

    depending on how many users register to the site a day, theres a good solution to the spam problem. It is done over at consumerist. They got more moderators. they then added a screen process where after registering, user comments are cued up. the moderator is able to see the message in a special page which just has a ton of comments and their respecting articles. based on the message, the moderator can either allow or ban the user. If the user is allowed, all comments they made will automatically be posted in all of the articles that they tried to post in.

    the captcha stops robot spammers, the moderators stop the human spammers, long before they make it on the public comments.

    Most of the spammers here are robot spammers. there are ad services that you can pay and they will spam your site on news sites, and also submit stories on digg and reddit and many other places. tomshardware seems to be the only place that has failed to deal with the spammers.
  • BrianHilton
    My mom's 2008 Lincoln MKX with Sync has this already since she bought it.... This debuted on all the Sync equipped Ford/Lincoln/Mercury models in 2008. And yes, my mom has the urgent response option for common answers like yes, no, driving, etc.

  • spam123
    Come on Tom's. This SPAM is getting annoying. Haven't you heard of CAPTCHA? This is 2011 now.
  • mayankleoboy1
    more apps to beat the law