GM Finds New Roads with Curated App Store, More Changes Down the Track

Greg Bates, August 9th, 2013

General MotorsVery little has been happening on the GM API front lately beyond plans for connected cars announced in January. But that quiet period could signal the retooling before the storm. Programmableweb’s Janet Wagner wrote a three-part series earlier in June, making it clear that changes are coming from every auto manufacturer. One indication: our API directory lists 17 APIs under “vehicle.” The GM APIs cover features everyone would expect, from audio streaming to location data. But GM’s plans extend far beyond that.

GigaOm’s Kevin Fitchard discussed the plans with GM’s developer ecosystem director Nick Pudar,

“GM’s not just talking about letting audio streaming and simple location-based services apps into the dashboard, it’s planning to expose engine and vehicle data and even its OnStar telematics features to its developer community. That means app builders can get access to the inner workings and technologies on an unprecedented scale, much like a smartphone or developer can delve into the core features of an Android or iOS device.
…developers can build apps apart from the car as well as within it: apps that can unlock a car’s doors with a touch of a button, tell you if someone is driving your car and where it’s going, coordinate arrival times between different vehicles and even adjust entertainment and air conditioning settings depending on who’s driving.”

It’s worth noting that some of the seemingly mundane ideas could be the earth shattering ones as far as customers go. That last point, about adjusting the seat according to whose driving could have a huge positive impact on marital bliss. How many shorter partners like to leave the seat forward because, well, that’s just what’s best? And how many taller partners argue that always putting the seat far back allows everyone, regardless of height, to get in and out more easily? That whole discussion (“Next time you get out of the car, could you…” “I’m sorry, honey, I just forgot…”) that takes place over decades might just disappear from our marital lexicon.

Fitchard reports that GM will go the way of Apple in terms of a curated app store, test driving every app so that it meets two conditions. According to Pudar, every app must meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidelines for distracted driving. No video for drivers, for example. And every app must also make clear what data it collects from the vehicle and driver.

Finally, GM has taken a leap that Ford has so far refused. Apple’s Siri Eyes Free voice interface will be controlling the interface as people drive. Does that cede too much of the road to Apple, or are GM’s competitors paranoid? Time will tell.

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