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Digital Gloss:

May 29, 2012

Facebook Gets in the Driver’s Seat

Will You “Like” the New Facebook-Enabled Mercedes?

By Nancy Staab

The 2013 S-L Class Mercedes prompts us to ask: will our cars soon have their own Facebook pages?

A Mercedes SL 2013 model A Mercedes SL 2013 model

Google has been grabbing lots of headlines with their prototype car that drives itself. We can’t wait for that to hit the marketplace, but in the meantime here’s a slightly more obtainable technology upgrade that you can already tap into. In what appears to be a current exclusive to Mercedes-Benz USA, Facebook is bringing its social networking to the dashboards of the 2013 S-L Class Mercedes. A custom, built-in version of Facebook for Mercedes recently debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But before you get too worked up about social-networking-while -steering, the Mercedes version of Facebook is decidedly stripped down. Navigation and “Concierge Services”: yes. Farmville or other third-party apps: hell no. Not surprisingly, the Facebook for Mercedes services are centered on locations of friends and businesses via GPS. For instance, while cruising a neighborhood, your liked restaurants or friends might automatically pop up on the screen or an automated status update may post when you arrive at your destination.  Of course, as an obvious safety precaution, any opportunity to individually enter text is disabled while the car is in motion. Mercedes’ team says the limited Faceboook application is no more distracting than standard navigation systems in cars.

Facebook is just one of several specially designed apps such as Google and Yelp that new Mercedes owners can flip between with the turn of a knob. A high-resolution color screen near the dashboard and a high-speed wireless Internet connection are also part of the package, which is called the mbrace2 system. Mercedes says that it plans to roll out the Facebook feature in all its 2013 models. And with more and more cars equipped with smart screens, it’s probably only a matter of time before even the lowly Toyota joins the social network-- though it remains to be seen if Mercedes-Benz will friend the auto upstart.

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