General Motors’ OnStar is branching out beyond the car. The automaker is launching a new smartphone app called Guardian for customers who want to access OnStar’s remote assistance service capabilities when they aren’t physically inside their car.
Previously, OnStar’s operators were only accessible to subscribers of the service by pressing a button on the rearview mirror or infotainment screen of their GM vehicle. Now, with the new app, OnStar customers can connect to an operator where ever they have their phone, either in the car, at home, or out walking. And for a limited time, they have the option of extending those services to up to seven family and friends of their choosing.
“We’ve got over 20 years of experience dealing with public safety, and we’ve been looking at ways that we can extend that promise beyond our existing member base,” says Jeffrey Haase, head of OnStar Guardian and manager of GM’s Global Innovation effort. “So this is a unique opportunity for us to deliver the promise of OnStar to friends and family that might not be driving a GM product but clearly have a relationship with that person that owns a car.”
Guardian also allows customers to keep tabs on their loved ones through active location sharing. Think of it as GM’s version of Apple’s Find My Friends. The app OnStar customers to track the location of approved users through live GPS sharing. GM envisions this being useful “during walks home after dark, time spent in a rideshare or rented vehicle, or when a teenage child is riding in a friend’s car.”
Haase said this could be especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people want to keep track of family members scattered around the country. “So knowing where they are, where they’re going, without necessarily hovering and consistently asking or calling to monitor, helps provide that peace of mind to know where family members are,” he said.
The red Emergency button in the app connects to OnStar’s International Academies of Emergency Dispatch-certified advisers who are available 24/7. These advisers can “assess a situation, contact 911 as needed, provide critical medical instruction and stay on the line until help arrives,” GM says.
OnStar services are complimentary for six months if members redeem the offer by Friday, July 31st, 2020. In the US, OnStar’s “Safety and Security plan” is $24.99 a month.