Web technology leaking into the car...

In 2013 more people will access the Internet from their phones than they will their PCs, according to Gartner. This milestone represents a tipping point for information technology as a whole, but also for automotive developers and marketers. The information-at-your-fingertips age is setting new expectations among car owners and drivers. And according to J.D. Power last month, demand for technology options surpassed safety options for new car buyers.

Mercedes-Benz announced today that its media interface now supports the popular Pandora Radio music-streaming service and streaming audio from Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and MP3 players.

Mercedes joins Ford, which also added Pandora as part of its advanced Sync system.

You can stream Pandora through either an iPhone or BlackBerry with Bluetooth enabled for streaming audio. You control Pandora or your phone/player's music with the steering-wheel buttons, toggling up or down to access different songs. You also can stream music from your iPod Touch.


With either the iPhone or iPod, you'll be able to play video content on Mercedes' main vehicle display (so long as your car has one) using a special cable that links the device to Mercedes' Media Interface Plus system. To stream audio, you'll need MIP, which is standard or optional on many Mercedes vehicles. If MIP is not installed on your car, you can get it installed for $298 at select Mercedes dealerships.

* OnStar + Facebook: GM announced they are testing and in-vehicle application allows owners to read text messages aloud, listen to Facebook status updates / news feeds, and update their own Facebook profiles.

* BMW + Apple iPad: A docking port allows owners to connect their existing Apple product to their car, and use the device to control in-car audio, video, etc. Mercedes-Benz just announced a similar integration.

* Audi + Google Earth: Audi recently announced the integration of Google Earth into their navigation interface for the A8. Drivers will see 3D satellite imagery and many layers of additional information based on their location.

* Mercedes-Benz + Pandora: Mercedes drivers can now stream Pandora through either an iPhone or BlackBerry with Bluetooth streaming audio. Drivers can control Pandora with the steering-wheel buttons.

* MyFord Touch/MyLincoln Touch: The technology offers voice activation of multiple web-connected apps such as Pandora and Stitcher.