At General Motors, we are committed to the evolving space of in-car connectivity. In order to fit the needs of our diverse customers, we’ve given app developers access to our application programming interfaces (API) where they are able to create apps for our vehicles. The developer community is very dynamic and vibrant, and by inviting developers outside of GM to create apps, we are able to reach both broad and niche groups of customers.
In-car connectivity poses an attractive market for developers since it’s significantly less cluttered than the smartphone space. Because in-car connectivity is still in the early stages of development, a developer is more likely to achieve visibility after creating a meaningful app. As consumers spend an average of 450 hours a year in their vehicles, a well-designed app will prove to be valuable.
There are two types of apps that can be developed for General Motors vehicles. The first is an in-vehicle app that uses APIs to pull information, like GPS or diagnostics, from the vehicle directly. These are apps that could be unique for an individual driver and provide a personalized driving experience. The second is a remote app, which uses OnStar connectivity to allow smartphones, tablets and web services to reach the vehicle through a cloud-based connection and interact with it from a distance.
Since the program started in January, we’ve received many great ideas for apps and positive feedback from developers. Our developer portal is extremely active, with more than 2,000 current registered developers, and we are constantly improving the platform. Through feedback from the developer community on our portal, we are able to optimize and prioritize our ongoing wave of API deployment.
We also participate in hackathons – or contests held for developers to create apps in a limited amount of time. We see a wide variety of ideas – some very elaborate and others that are very simple. One group of teenagers – not even old enough for a driver’s license – developed an app that aids in driver education programs by keeping track of how many daytime and nighttime hours have been driven, local speed limits and how well certain driving maneuvers have been performed.
An example of a simpler app was created with just two buttons – one that says ‘personal’ and one that says ‘business.’ If the driver chooses the ‘business’ option, the app tracks mileage and fuel consumption for work-related trips that may be used for expenses or tax reporting. We’ve seen a variety of developers come up with great ideas – from beginners to experts; everyone brings something different to the table.
We are thrilled with what we’ve already seen from these developers and are eager to see what else the future holds. As we continue to work together, we will be able to offer an appealing assortment of apps to our customers.
If you are a developer and would like to know more about the program, visit https://developer.gm.com/
Nick Pudar is the director of developer ecosystems for GM’s Global Connected Consumer group. He is responsible for driving future service evolution, overseeing developer relations and the integration of new apps in GM vehicles.