Move over Google Maps – Alexa-powered mapping is coming for your car

Would this stop you from using Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps?

General Motors Maps+ app
(Image credit: General Motors)

With carmakers increasingly using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to hand the navigation reins over to the driver’s smartphone, General Motors has decided to buck the trend with a new app of its own.

Called Maps+, the app will be coming to the infotainment systems of 900,000 GM vehicles from the end of April 2021. The app is coming to many 2018 vehicles and newer from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. It will be made available to all drivers who subscribe to GM’s Connected Services plans.

Designed with software company Mapbox, the Maps+ app has Alexa built-in, so drivers can use the Amazon voice assistant to play music or podcasts, while a search function makes it easy to look up local points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking and more.

Because this is an app that runs on the car instead of a connected smartphone, it knows your fuel level and can direct you to a petrol or charging station if you’re running low. Other features include speed limit and local hazard alerts, and notifications to tell you when the app finds a route that is faster than the one you are on.

Other features include day and night modes for the interface, and real-time traffic data to help you take the quickest route.

Describing the mapping app as a “delightful, easy-to-use experience,” Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox, said: “From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption.”

We like what GM is doing here, by harnessing the existing over-the-air update system of its many vehicles, it can bring a useful upgrade to cars that are, in some cases, more than three years old. And it is doing this without relying on the user’s smartphone to bring the internet connection, apps and processing power.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.