General Motors will be taking Ford’s AppLink platform head-on with a new app framework which was announced today at 2013 CES.
App developers will be able to create apps that add features or value to a vehicle after its initial purchase. Also, in contrast to many in-car apps, that are just extensions, or versions of smart-phone apps, GM says that its frameworks can help make a whole new category of apps that are vehicle specific.
Imagine something like Ford‘s Track-Apps that can record real world 0-60 sprints or lap times, but instead of in a Mustang, it would be available in a Camaro or Corvette. Another idea is an app that can help drivers change driving habits to achieve better fuel economy.
Already, GM has partnered with app developers to bring iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Slacker and The Weather Channel apps to the platform. A catalog of apps will be available and is expected to grow as GM gets ready to launch.
Enterprising app developers can head to developers.gm.com to download the software development kit to start coding their apps for GM vehicles. Apps will be thoroughly tested and inspected by GM before they’re released to the app catalog and are expected to range in prices. None of these apps will be available without certification, and GM expressed that, in the interest of security, that they have tight rules and certifications to pass before an app is available.
A major concern with in-car applications is with how they deal with distracted driving. A key solution for this in competing products, like Ford’s AppLink apps, is to use voice commands. However, GM pointed out that so far, there are no apps with voice commands. This will likely change as the app selection grows.
“Safety first: The real key is to be able to provide more apps with a good user interface,” said Kathy McMahon, Program Manager for this flexible app framework. ” A very good interface will help deal with distracted driving.” McMahon also assures that the vehicles will have the appropriate input lockouts for safety while driving.
These apps will be available on 2014 model year vehicles from GM, including Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick, and will be compatible with Android and iPhones, with limited support of BlackBerry phones, and no support of Windows Phone devices.
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