GM Announces New Developer Framework

GM Announces New Developer Framework

General Motors has announced a new flexible application framework at the Consumer Electronics Show that will allow drivers toadd apps and features to their vehicle after the initial purchase, allowing vehicle infotainment systems to improve over time.

The framework enables new set of vehicle application programming interfaces, or APIs, for developers, allowing them to interact with and build upon the infotainment systems in GM vehicles.

GM will offer developers a software development kit (SDK) through an online portal at This will allow developers to work with GM in a secure and controlled manner to design, test and deliver the most relevant, customizable and seamlessly integrated automotive apps.

The implementation of these apps is incorporated into new infotainment systems, debuting in select 2014 MY vehicles that will change how in-vehicle apps are offered. The systems' framework includes an app catalog that will allow vehicle owners to choose from a menu of available applications specifically designed for the in-vehicle experience.

GM demonstrated applications from four potential partners for the new app catalog: iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Slacker and The Weather Channel. The catalog, which is not yet available on GM vehicles, is expected to grow as GM gets ready to launch the new framework.

In addition, the framework will allow developers to create a new category of vehicle apps.

"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," said GM Chief Infotainment Officer Phil Abram. "It's not just taking phone apps and making them functional 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."

Once these apps are created and have been approved by GM for in-vehicle use, future owners of certain GM models will be able to download them directly to the vehicle through the app catalog.

"GM customers will soon be able to personalize and update the apps in their vehicles," said Abram, "compared to today, when you purchase a vehicle and the infotainment features are fixed and remain the same throughout the ownership experience."

Until now, GM has only offered select developers access to remote APIs that interact with the vehicle via the OnStar system. The new SDK will expand the environment so that developers can work with the actual vehicle through the infotainment system.

"We are providing developers a pathway to develop for a new audience in a new setting, resulting in new customers," said Abram. "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 also establish a community where developers can join in exploring what's possible with in-vehicle apps."

GM sells more than 9 million vehicles globally on an annual basis, which creates a large base of potential app-capable vehicles for developers to work with. The new app framework will first be available on select 2014 MY vehicles in the United States, with the intention to make it available over time on global brands, increasing the opportunity for local customization.

GM is using the HTML5 Java Script framework in its SDK as well.

"We have designed our SDK so that developers only have to write the software code once to address the entire population of vehicles and end users," said Abram. "Developers can repurpose existing tools and code from existing projects as long as they're consistent with applicable licenses. Our app policies will also provide flexibility in how developers can design commercial aspects of their apps as well."

GM will define a full certification process and business model for applications. After developing apps, developers will have an online opportunity to submit them on the dedicated online portal. If approved, GM will provide the developer with next steps to test and publish the app for customer access.

The online developer portal includes an active forum where developers can go to gage a technical specialist with questions. The portal also will host a blog for developers to keep them informed on the latest news and information. GM will use the input and feedback from the developer community to continuously improve the app framework.

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