Less is more with the new-generation Chevrolet MyLink system

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark LT's doesn't come with a CD player, but it makes up for this absence with a full suite of digital-audio connections and smartphone app connectivity. You probably don't listen to CDs anymore anyway, right?

Everything about the MyLink software reminds me of the old Zune interface; this is a good thing. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

You may already be familiar with the maxim, "Less is more." Clearly the infotainment engineers over at General Motors are, because it seems that they've taken this approach to designing the dashboard of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark LT.

The Chevrolet Spark LT is available is a variety of questionable colors. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

There are only four buttons for volume up and down, power, and home below the 7-inch touch screen. There are only three knobs for the basic climate control system. There isn't even a CD player -- GM's betting that you probably won't even notice that last bit, because its target market carries music around on phones and in the cloud. When powered down, the Spark's dashboard is overwhelmingly simple. Turn the key and you'll find, as I did, that this is a case of less being more.

The aforementioned 7-inch LCD is home to the newest generation of Chevrolet's MyLink software. Aside from looking like a love letter to the old Zune interface with its large text white text on a black background and fluorescent highlights, this software also gives the driver access to AM/FM radio, USB MP3 playback, iPod/iPhone connectivity, and Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming. There's also an auxiliary analog input for those who want to simply plug in a device that's not compatible with the Bluetooth/USB/iPod digital audio triumvirate.

On its own, this would be a fairly simple entry-level infotainment system--on par with the Hyundai Accents and Scion iQs that it competes with. However, Chevy MyLink gains a few tricks when paired with an Android smartphone or Apple iPhone. Under the Smartphone Link option, you'll find connectivity hooks into a few apps, such as Pandora Internet Radio, Stitcher Radio, and BringGo. Pandora and Stitcher should be familiar, but BringGo is a new navigation app developed for the Spark (and other future GM vehicles to boast smartphone link).

BringGo allows users to search for destinations, save and retrieve favorite locations, get traffic updates, and navigate from point A to B with turn-by-turn directions on a live-updating map. Users interact with BringGo on their Spark's touch screen just like they would with any other OEM navigation option, but the software and processing happens on the connected smartphone like an app. BringGo will be available to MyLink users in the Google Play store and iTunes for about $50 -- a pretty penny among the variety of free and cheap navigation apps in both markets, but almost nothing when compared with the alternative of a thousand-dollar OEM navigation option.

Additionally, GM has announced that it is adding TuneIn Radio app support in a future software update and is courting more app developers to help flesh out its offerings. A partnership with app developer and car-to-app connectivity hardware pioneer Livio should help get that ball rolling.

 

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