Kia Uvo in-car technology ditches Microsoft for Google

In 2009, Kia announced a partnership with Microsoft that was designed to bring Microsoft's embedded version of Windows inside Kia cars. The Kia Uvo system allowed some of the Korean car maker's vehicles to come with a touchscreen with features such as satellite radio, voice recognition software and more. We got a demo of Microsoft's software working with the Kia Uvo system at CES 2010.

Well, it looks like that Kia-Microsoft partnership is now over. Today, Kia announced that the next generation of its Uvo in-car technology will use Google software instead. The press release states:

The immediate integration of Google solutions will utilize Google Maps and Google Places to acquire driving directions and locate Points of Interest (POIs) in a seamless and organic manner. KMA and Google look forward to continuing to work together to bring innovative navigation solutions to enhance the connected car experience.

The 2014 Kia Sorento, which will go on sale in the first quarter of 2013, will be the first car with the Google-powered Kia Uvo technology, with other Kia vehicles scheduled to add the technology later in the year.The system will also use voice commands to help drivers use the Google Maps feature for navigation, among other features. There's also an iPhone app that will work with the system when it launches, with an Android app scheduled to launch later in the year.

Kia's press release did not state why it decided to end its partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft still works with Ford for its Sync in-car technology system, which is now in five million Ford vehicles.

Source: Kia press release | Image via Kia

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13 Comments

Makes sense, google maps in places outside of the USA is actually decent whereas bing maps are... sub-par to say the least.

I agree with you, but also disagree at the same time. Google Maps might work fine in those areas. But, no one should use maps to navigate, because you can't keep an eye on the road while you're trying to determine where the little dot is on the line drawn for the route. Not to mention, that there's no voice announcements as you approach a turn.

I assume that they're going to use Google's navigation app that included with their Android smartphone OS, or some deviation of it since it's augmented with Google Maps and StreetView and is an actual Nav app. The problem, I see with this, is that it doesn't work in some areas within the US and doesn't work at all in Pueto Rico, Canada and Mexico (at least when I tried it in PR 6 mo ago it didn't). I'd stay away from cars using Google Nav, unless they do some serious work on it.

Nokia's HERE or the nav app included with Nokia Windows Phones is better.

Actually Google Maps has had voice navigation for quite some time so it should be a "non issue". On that same note completely relying on GPS isn't a good way to deal with it because you don't really get to know your surroundings.

Google Maps recently added voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation announcements but on iOS only. To my knowledge, the Android version has never supported this, since you can use the actual navigation app - Google Navigation.

http://www.google.com/mobile/maps/
http://www.google.com/mobile/navigation/

If you look at the links, you'll see what they're claiming is Google maps with turn-by-turn navigation is actually the Google Navigation app, not maps. They're closely linked but they are two distinct applications. If you choose to view turn-by-turn navigation or to "navigate" it actually launches the navigation app, not maps.

I've used Android for the last few years and the navigation app is good, but it can defiantly stand for some improvements. I've seen too many cases where the navigation app wouldn't work. You get an error that says, "Google Navigation is not available in your area", but maps works just fine -- meaning they're not the same thing.

Edited by ahinson, Jan 3 2013, 5:29pm :

The use of the word "organic" in the context of this article needs to also be added to the list of words/phrases that need to go in 2013.

Yeah I was gonna say that too, Google Maps is much better.
Will people be able to play Angry Birds while they drive too? : )

What's funny on Kia press release all they said was they was using Google api for maps and navigation. If you go to their website, Uvo don't have maps or navigation in it. Never said they was getting rid of MS.

I see you fail to have read that Ford outsource software development to another company and used MS os in the background. Ford since then moved it in house with MS help is why it got better for 2013 models.

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