At CES 2013, Chevrolet was showing off Siri and TuneIn Radio apps working in their 2013 Spark and Sonic vehicles. All of the features you would expect are there, such as dictating messages to Siri and checking calendar appointments via voice. Of course, GM wants to make sure nobody's messing around with their phone while behind the wheel, so they lock down the TuneIn Radio app on iPhone when plugged in and connected to the car, and similarly, Siri will deny certain requests which would require more detailed viewing, such as anything that results in opening the browser. The Wi-Fi connection was pretty spotty at the show, so it was hard to get a bead on exactly how well the whole system would work on the road.
Though that's cool and all, the bigger story here is that GM is opening up their development environment with an SDK, enabling those in the iOS space to make new apps for Chevy cars. The general impression I got from their app ecosystem is that for now GM will be building the platform as something that's separate from traditional mobile apps with the occasional tie-in to smartphones. Siri is obviously another exception to that rule, but everything else was merely using the smartphone as a hotspot for data access. Slacker, iheartradio, and The Weather Channel are a few of the other early integration partners. There's a ton of potential in broadly tying mobile and automotive app ecosystems, akin to what Ford's doing with AppLink, but GM promises that they'll have APIs available for remote functions in late 2013. Those APIs includes starting the car, checking on vehicle diagnostics, and accessing location-based data. Previously, these kinds of functions were only opened up to select partners through the OnStar console. Apps for GM cars are built on HTML5, so at least iOS devs that lean heavily on it can port easily, and even those that don't should be able to cook something up quickly.
How many of you guys have an in-car smart dash system? Should the app ecosystems overlap in functions or exist separately? Developers that are interested in getting started with GM's system can get started over here.
Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.
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