Thanks to the invention of cupholders, we can all safely drink coffee while we drive.
And now, thanks to a new app from GM, we can safely order coffee from Starbucks (SBUX) and Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN) while we drive.
The new technology will let drivers do everything from ordering hot wings to booking a hotel room or reserving a table at Applebee’s — all without even having to pull over.
If you own a 2017 or 2018 model year Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac, you might see a new icon on your vehicle’s central computer screen Tuesday morning. It’s labeled Marketplace.
With a few pokes of your finger you can order food or drinks, or reserve a table at one of several restaurants that have teamed up with GM.
“For most retailers and consumer brands the daily commute is the only time not accessible in a consumers’ day,” said Santiago Chamorro, GM’s vice president for Connected Customer Experience, in an announcement. “Marketplace gives merchants the ability to more safely engage with drivers and passengers in a meaningful way that provides true value for our customers.”
In other words, until someone invents a way for you to buy stuff in your sleep, it is now possible to make a purchase at any given minute of the day.
The system relies on “machine learning,” taking cues your location and from how you’ve used the Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts apps on your phone to decide which menu items to offer.
Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports, had a chance to try out the system on a Buick.
“It does seem distracting,” he said. But he admitted that it might not be much more distracting than all the other interactive widgets cars already have. Many cars come equipped with music apps such as Pandora or reservation apps like OpenTable, both of which let drivers poke through digital lists.
These sorts of systems will probably become even more convenient, Fisher said, as the technology improves and more companies sign on. But making the systems work better just means that more people will use them, thereby increasing the potential for distraction.
Vendors featured on the app include Wingstop, TGI Fridays, Shell, ExxonMobil, Priceline.com, Parkopedia, IHOP and Delivery.com.
GM (GM) itself is also a vendor. Drivers can buy 4G data packages, extend their OnStar subscription and receive offers for parts and services while driving.
You won’t have to purchase a data plan to use Marketplace, though. It will be available to everyone with a late model GM car that has the required hardware. Over the next 12 to 18 months, the service will be rolled out to a total of about 4 million GM vehicles on U.S. roads.