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Buick IntelliLink (photos)

After enjoying a healthy lead with Sync, Ford may finally have to watch its back. GM officially debuted MyLink and IntelliLink at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, and its new smartphone-integrated infotainment platform could be a game changer for the industry.

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Liane Yvkoff

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IntelliLink synced with an iPhone

Badged as IntelliLink in Buick and GMC vehicles, MyLink uses Bluetooth or USB to sync the occupant's smartphone with the vehicle and integrate certain entertainment applications with the head unit.

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IntelliLink main screen

If you don't own a smartphone, don't worry--you still have access to all the standard entertainment system features, such as CD player, audio inputs for iPods, and XM satellite radio capability using the new touch-screen or physical control buttons.

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Pandora app on IntelliLink screen

But by syncing your phone to add apps to the MyLink infotainment system, you get seamless connectivity, steering wheel controls, voice activation, and touch-screen operation.

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Stitcher app integrated with IntelliLink

For now, Pandora and Stitcher are the only two mobile apps allowed into the new platform. GM hasn't announced an approval process for authorizing other apps, such as iHeartRadio, Spotify, or Mog, but you can expect others to be announced after they pass the safety sniff test. But it's not an open-door policy.

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OnStar turn-by-turn directions on navigation screen

Your navigation choices are still limited to GM's proprietary navigation system, or you can forgo maps entirely and use optional downloadable turn-by-turn directions provided by OnStar.

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IntelliLink hands-free voice activation

Phone based entertainment apps isn't the only way GM is catching up to Ford's Sync system. In addition to touch-screen interactivity, GM gave its voice activation technology a much needed upgrade. Now both Ford and GM use Nuance and Gracenote for voice activation of their entertainment systems and navigation. However, with 10,000 natural language commands and years of practice, Ford's Sync might retain the upper hand when it comes getting the car to understand what you want.

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Enhanced XM station graphics

The MyLink platform will be available in the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox and 2012 Chevrolet Volt this fall, and in the 2013 Chevy Malibu next year. IntelliLink will be standard in all 2012 Veranos, and available in the LaCrosss and Regal later this year, and Buicks will feature a different color scheme with enhanced graphics for satellite radio stations.

Back to 2011 New York auto show.

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