Today Google announced a new partnership with the Korean car manufacturer Kia Motors to integrate Google Maps and Places into Kia's new UVO eServices telematics system which will be rolling out in new models as soon as this year. Google's API's will power systems in Kia's new 2014 Sorento CUV models, providing turn-by-turn directions and assisting with the location of points-of-interest nearby for drivers. The Sorento will be on sale in Q1 of 2013.
The Korean car manufacturer has developed a UVO smartphone app, which is kind of weird that it's only available on iOS right now, but it will connect to the Sorento's telematic system using its new Send-to-Car feature. The Android version of this app is expected to launch in the second quarter of this year. Let's hope it follows Android 4.x design guidelines.
In addition to Kia, Google also announced that Hyundai will be offering Google Maps in its cars using Google's Send-to-Car feature as well as Hyundai's own Blue Link Technology. But currently we don't know which of their car models will support it and which will be the first to have Google Maps and Places integrated.
But it's not just Kia or Hyundai, but Audi, Daimler and Tesla Motor Co are also working to implement Google's services into their cars, but in a somewhat different way. Audi connect offers Google local search, satellite, and street view imagery in a few of their models. And in the Tesla Model S, they've opted for a 17-inch high-resolution touch screen display which has mapping and real time traffic updates.
These announcements follow a busy 2012 for Google's competitors Apple and Nokia. Last year Nokia partnered with BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Hyundai to push their Navteq mapping platform and provide commerce and location content to their in-car systems for each manufacturer.
It'll be interesting to see how Google Maps and Places get integrated into these new models this year. But one thing is certain, it'll be better than having Apple Maps integrated into the system. Maybe we'll see this new integration at the Auto Show this year, but with that only being a few weeks away, that might be a bit difficult.