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Mercedes-Benz, Facebook Team Up to Put App in Cars

Facebook will be one of the apps in Mercedes' new Mbrace2 telematics system, which will begin appearing in the company's SL class vehicles

Facebook is coming to a new Mercedes-Benz near you.

At CES 2012 in Las Vegas, the German car maker revealed that Facebook would be one of the apps in its new Mbrace2 telematics system, which will begin appearing in the company's SL class vehicles this spring.

Mercedes' edition of Facebook won't be as robust as the online version, according to a report by Reuters. It will have a limited set of features designed for drivers and focused on locations of friends and businesses.

Moving Facebook to venues with Internet access other than computers and smartphones is a logical extension of the social network, its vice president of partnerships and platform marketing, Dan Rose, told Reuters. For example, he noted that since people use GPS devices to track the location of their car, why shouldn't they be able to track the location of their Facebook friends from their car.

There has been increased concern lately, especially in the United States, about gadgets in cars, especially smartphones, distracting a driver's attention from driving and contributing to accidents. In fact one national automotive safety organization has called for a complete ban of operating cellphones in cars.

Mercedes is addressing that issue head-on with its Facebook app.

The app does not support any Facebook activity that requires you to enter text while the vehicle is in motion.

You can, however, post canned messages to your Facebook page while driving by poking a screen or turning a knob. You can also automatically publish a notice that you are in route to a destination, as well as an estimated time of arrival.

Nearby friends can be found by the app, too, as well as nearby restaurants that your friends "liked" on the social network.

If you want to play Farmville in your Mercedes, though, you're out of luck. The app doesn't support third-party Facebook apps.

Mercedes isn't the only car maker touting cockpit tech at CES. Ford demonstrated new voice command capabilities that allow a driver to control navigation applications and even find their favorite public radio station.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.


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