Automakers Get Cozy With Developers At CES

Through a kind of annealing process, automakers are now pretty much embedded in the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, using it to talk about the connected car. That’s a pretty good metaphor for the automakers’ telematics development strategies: create an open system that is friendly to developers with cool auto-relevant applications. 

And to the extent that telematics is now the “it” game for auto companies desperately looking for ways to make younger people care about their products while also making some money, CES is as important for launching technology as the North American International Auto Show is for launching those four-wheeled internet devices that older people still refer to as cars.

The overarching auto theme at CES is open platforms, and one big piece of news on that front is the formation of the Open Automotive Alliance, a global collaboration between Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA. The idea is to bring the Android platform to cars starting in 2014, per the new organization. The group says the first cars with Android on board will come by year-end. 

Ford, which is launching its own developer conference in Detroit this summer, announced several programs of its own at CES around third-party developed apps tied to Ford Sync's AppLink API.

There's a partnership with Gracenote developers around a smartphone app that connects to AppLink to let users create playlists based on 25 different "mood" possibilities. Ford also announced that AppLink can also use Parkopedia, an iOS and Android app for finding parking spaces. Users hit the Sync button to get real-time data. 

What telematics system would be worth anything without pizza ordering capability? Ford and Domino's Pizza are doing a joint venture around a personal "pizza profile" on Domino's app. You can order a pizza while driving, though you can't eat it while driving.  

Chevrolet, which last year announced it had inked a deal with AT&T for a program to provide 4G LTE for its cars, announced the timeline at CES. GM said the new OnStar 4G LTE connection will first be in the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette, Impala, Malibu, and Volt. Chevrolet MyLink feature will also open shop to third-party apps with its AppShop API. AT&T, for its part, announced its own division, AT&T Drive for generating telematics business with auto companies. The division includes a studio where automakers can telematics-test drive their vehicles using AT&T’s technology.

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