General Motors said it will be opening its infotainment systems to developers and allowing owners of its cars to download apps for those systems after purchase.
According to a GM press release, the company announced a “new flexible application framework” at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The framework would allow drivers to add apps to their infotainment systems after purchase and would enable a new set of vehicle application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow developers to interact with and build upon GM vehicles’ infotainment systems.
Developers will be able to access a software development kit (SDK) via this link, where they can “work with GM in a secure and controlled manner to design, test and deliver the most relevant, customizable and seamlessly integrated automotive apps,” the release said.
The implementation of those apps will be incorporated into the infotainment systems in select 2014 GM models, the release said, though it did not specify which. Notably, the system will offer drivers a catalog that will allow them to choose from apps specifically designed for the in-vehicle experience.
At CES, GM demonstrated how the new apps implementation will look by showing prototype apps from iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Slacker, and The Weather Channel. GM said it expects the catalog of apps to grow by the time the system is readied for its full launch later this year.
GM Chief Infotainment Officer Phil Abram said, “There will be a category of apps that will be unique to our cars and very different from what people use today on their smartphones or tablets. It’s not just taking phone apps and making them function in a car, which most car companies do in some form now. Instead, GM may approve applications that stem from vehicle ownership. For example, customers can choose to download applications that assist them in driving more safely or in a more fuel efficient manner, possibly decreasing the costs of vehicle ownership.”
The General will, of course, have final say over which apps are approved and which are not. Once approved by GM brass, an app would be downloadable from the catalog– think of it as General Motors’ version of Google Play or the iTunes Store.
Quoting Abram again:
“We are providing developers a pathway to develop for a new audience in a new setting, resulting in new customers. GM intends to cultivate a relationship with these developers to explore new apps that will benefit the overall driving experience. This is part of GM’s commitment to bring customer-centric technology to our vehicles and establish a community where developers can join in exploring what’s possible with in-vehicle apps.”