Auto Tech

Hands-on with Chevy's brand new infotainment apps

If you like listening to news, entertainment or sports in the car, these new apps are for you.

Chevrolet

Two weeks ago, General Motors launched Marketplace, the first in a new suite of apps being beamed to GM infotainment systems across the country. Now, there's a whole bunch more on the way, and we got to try them out early.

Chevrolet announced today that it will update nearly 1 million cars with a suite of new apps that encompass entertainment, news, sports and music. Available for free through the Shop app store, this new suite relies on the car's built-in 4G LTE cellular connection, so there's no phone required in the equation. In order to receive this update, you'll need a 2017 or 2018 Chevrolet with a compatible MyLink infotainment system.

The new apps include the New York Times, People Magazine, Fox Sports, NPR One and Dash Radio. Each app you download from Shop will appear on your home screen. When the car starts, the apps are greyed out until the vehicle picks up its cellular connection, at which point you can tap away and listen to -- well, all sorts of stuff.

The best part is, it relies on the in-car cellular connection, so you don't need to burn your own data to catch up on the news.

Chevrolet

"When you look at the categories, we picked the ones we think would be the most relevant while driving," said John McFarland, director of global digital experiences at General Motors, in a phone interview.

The apps focus on delivering small-ish bites of podcasts and other series related to each app. NPR One, for example, works with local affiliates, so I was able to listen to local news from WDET in Detroit. The New York Times daily update is the same mini-podcast that you'll get from your Amazon Echo's flash briefing.

They're devilishly easy to use. The apps feature large-enough text for easy finger tapping from the driver's seat, and there's no aesthetic frippery to distract drivers or riders further. The only bummer is a temporary one -- the apps work with touchscreen and steering wheel controls, but not voice commands. That said, given the over-the-air nature of these new apps, that functionality could be added quickly if the demand is there.

While I'm not always a fan of shoving as many apps into the infotainment system as possible -- distracted driving is bad enough as it is -- it's nice that GM ran with this small curated selection of audio apps. It beats having drivers diving into their phones to pull up podcasts, that's for sure. Between this and being able to order coffee from your car via Marketplace, getting out of your car is becoming more overrated by the day.