Ford, GM, open up to developers at CES 2013

GM announced its new app framework at CES 2013, which will support third-party apps.

(Credit: GM)

LAS VEGAS – Ford and GM both worlds shocked the automotive and technology with the announcement of developer programs for software platform cars, essentially replicate the smartphone ecosystem on the dashboard. The two websites were launched almost identical URLs, developer.gm.com developer.ford.com and to support the independent development of applications for their cars.

Ford already has about 20 applications built on its Sync AppLink system, with nine new applications announced at the show. GM is back in the board game application, but the program open source development should provide a boost.

The programs are designed to encourage developers to adapt existing applications or invent entirely new applications for use in the car. GM seemed particularly interested in getting developers to take advantage of some of the data that provides vehicle through its application framework, such as fuel level and vehicle speed.

While Ford had its Sync AppLink system, GM launched its own application framework at the show, a platform that will form the basis of its MyLink and IntelliLink branded systems.

Ford had been working with the developers, to some extent, providing APIs that let applications take advantage of advanced features of Sync AppLink voice commands and touch screen interface. GM also is allowing developers to its API, so that applications can use the interface options of a vehicle.

Despite the open nature of development, both Ford and GM retain the authority to approve applications, so you can make sure that the functions are safe to use in the car. Ford came out and said it would not allow applications or video games synchronized AppLink.

Although they may have fewer automotive applications that a device like the iPhone, the number of very large growth potential when you consider that there are currently more than 700,000 apps in the iTunes store. Cars in the near future it seems likely that the drivers install applications for a variety of uses in the dashboard. Similar to using a smartphone, you can have your favorite apps to load when you get a new car, and then explore more options. A particularly useful application can even influence car buyers toward a model that supports it.

Reinventing the smartphone
It may seem silly to duplicate infrastructure today find application in smart phones, however, do native applications for the car offers some advantages. First, smartphones are not meant to be used while driving. Automobile manufacturers are unwilling to integrate a smartphone into the dashboard interface, as there would be no control over how it is used, so the liability to whether a driver has an accident while playing a game, for example .

Second, the dashboard of the car, even with an integrated touch screen is designed for driving. Touch screens in the control panel are much larger than smartphones, and automakers have total control over the design of the interface. Systems Voice Commands can be designed to work with the car, and the steering wheel-mounted buttons to drivers using technological functions while maintaining full control.

Finally, an application system in a vehicle may take advantage of that vehicle data are not available for a smartphone. Travel Apps could help drivers save fuel by calculating long-term fuel efficiency and driving coach efficient techniques. Application performance can be fun for fans of track day, and even access the online competency scales.

Because only two automakers announced programs open application developers, it might seem premature to be a trend. However, GM and Ford together sold nearly 15 percent of the world’s cars last year. GM was the biggest seller on all other automakers, while Ford carved out a significant part of itself in sixth place. This volume suggests other automakers will have to look to launch their own programs, if they are to remain competitive.

To address complaints about developers who have to build applications for different platforms dozen cars, Ford also took the extraordinary step of saying that would let other automakers use Sync AppLink platform, for free.

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