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Transportation Software

Ford and GM Open Car Software To Outside Developers 82

Dr Herbert West writes with news that General Motors and Ford have both used CES to announce a Software Development Kit for developers to create in-car apps. "Ford is focusing on three primary categories for apps: news and information, music and entertainment, and navigation and location. Marchwicki said the automaker will “instantly deny” apps that incorporate video, excessive text and gaming in a bid to reduce the risk of distracted driving. After developers have incorporated the Sync AppLink code into a proposed app, they submit it to Ford engineers for review. Ford will certify the app is bug-free and appropriate for automobiles. Once approved, Ford will work with the developer to provide a distribution license and get the app on the market." Similarly GM seeks infotainment apps that can be downloaded directly to the dashboard. "GM will provide developers with an SDK through an online portal that allows them to work with the automaker to design, test and deliver relevant automotive apps. GM also is including an HTML5 Java Script framework in its SDK."
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Ford and GM Open Car Software To Outside Developers

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  • From the blurb: "Marchwicki said the automaker will 'instantly deny' apps that incorporate video, excessive text and gaming in a bid to reduce the risk of distracted driving." But why would they be denied even if they pause when the driver shifts out of park?
    • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:46PM (#42539171) Homepage Journal

      Why do they bother?

      The future car computer is an iPhone/Android dock.

      • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:55PM (#42539337)

        Why do they bother?

        The future car computer is an iPhone/Android dock.

        Exactly. Cars last over a decade but that's a century in silicon-years. When I was shopping for used cars recently many of them boasted GPS maps built in, only they needed updating from non-existant dvd updates made for them. Pointless when my smart phone does a much better job and knows what the price of hotel, and hours places are open and where the coffees shops are. In a few years my smart phone will be google glass. The car cannot possibly keep up.

        On the other hand I love my hands free voice activated phon calling that just piggybacks on the smart phones address book.

        So what you need is a versatile interface definition to the smart phone that can use voice and video in the car but not supply any og the intelligence from the car. the car is just an input and out put device. these evolve less fast. consider the video screen, mouse and KB. not much has changed in decades.

        • Pointless when my smart phone does a much better job

          That'd work for people who already have a smart phone. But how much do you pay per year for service on your smart phone?

          • Who doesn't have a smartphone these days? Blackberry has the budget phone market sewn up, everyone else has an Android or iPhone. I pay £15.32 per month for my smartphone service.

            • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:34PM (#42540521) Homepage Journal

              Who doesn't have a smartphone these days?

              Anyone on the least expensive plans from Virgin Mobile USA. CDMA2000 phones in the United States don't use a removable CSIM; instead, they use a subscriber identity programmed directly into the phone. (Some of Verizon's CDMA2000/LTE phones use a combo CSIM/USIM, but Virgin is part of Sprint.) So each handset has to be activated as a separate line, and the cheapest plan for a smartphone ($35/mo) is seven times as expensive per month as the cheapest plan for an occasional-use dumbphone ($5/mo).

              I pay £15.32 per month for my smartphone service.

              Smartphone service is more expensive in countries that use $ (USD/CAD) than in countries that use £ (GBP).

              • by eriks ( 31863 )

                Try pageplus. They resell verizon. I have an old off-contract droid x that I keep activated as a cell phone for under $4/month. It's connected to wifi most of the time, so I hardly ever use the tiny amount of voice/data that I get for that price. It works perfectly as an occasional use cell phone, but full time pocket computer.

                I used to have a tracfone, but pageplus makes it *cheaper* to have an android phone. I dunno how they do it, but I don't care as long as they stay in business.

                It's true though, a

            • Who doesn't? On a quick count I know 22 people including myself that lack possession of a Smart Phone. I Don't want or need one either, but hey, different strokes for different folks.
          • by sjbe ( 173966 )

            That'd work for people who already have a smart phone. But how much do you pay per year for service on your smart phone?

            If you have a screen in your car odds are pretty high you have a smart phone too. The nav system in my truck cost about $3000 as an option. My smartphone data plan is covered for 4 years for the same price. If you can't afford a smart phone chances are extremely high you aren't worried about having a screen in your car.

          • Bear in mind that we are talking about new cars.

            • My adoptive mother bought a new Ford Focus within the past year but still carries a dumbphone. Does that make her an edge case?
              • Yes. New cars are quite expensive purchases and are usually done by people with relatively high disposable incomes. There exist people like your adoptive mother who (I assume) don't see the need to carry a computer with them every where they go. For the most part they probably don't care about the toys on a new car either and are more interested in the reliability aspect.

                The statistics speak for themselves, most people with enough disposable income (and quite a few who can't really afford it) have smart pho

        • until you find yourself in your car without a charger, and then you find out just how quickly the battery run out when your iphone has the maps app, gpsm and 3g running.
          • by Cryacin ( 657549 )
            It's far cheaper to install a docking cradle for the phone in your car, than to update anything in the dashboard.

            The GP's post about interfaces is great, but the real problem with interfaces is that an interface is longer lived than any implementation. Gaze down and look at your "cigarette lighter". I would be quite willing to bet that more people utilize the cigarette lighter interface to plug in their GPS, phone charger, et al, than light a cigarette.

            Not to mention what happens when the latest and gre
          • Car has an alternator. Right connector? No Fng problem.

            Hell, hybrids have 4-6 alternators! Teslas have enough battery for a skyscraper full of iPhones.

          • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:20PM (#42540949)

            until you find yourself in your car without a charger, and then you find out just how quickly the battery run out when your iphone has the maps app, gpsm and 3g running.

            Worse, and far more often encountered is the great null zone (something you city folk never actually experience except in elevators) where there is no cell service or insufficient bandwidth, like Edge or GPRS) and you can't really use on-line maps. I use to think this only occurred in the boonies of the Western US, but driving around in Upstate New York off of freeways quickly disabused me of that notion.

            A dedicated GPS, either built in or suction cupped on the dash is a far better solution.

            What is needed is a bluetooth way to send an address to the damn thing directly from the phone. Why do they all forget this feature?

            • by MeNeXT ( 200840 )

              There is a null zone in every in car system I've seen so far. I have a 2012 model which has trouble with street names. It's not that it doesn't know the street name it's that I have to figure out how the programer spelled the name. When I can't even enter the address because the "great head unit" programers couldn't figure out "search" is just mind boggling. I feel I'm back with Alta VIsta or Yahoo. I pick up my phone and just speak the address and the thing just works.

              My 2012 system can't even take a brid

            • by epp_b ( 944299 )

              What is needed is good mapping software that actually allows you to download vectors, POIs, etc. for entire selected regions onto the SD card or internal memory.

              Osmand technically does this, but it's slow, awkward and the data is incomplete.

              Google has been talking about offering this for a while, but I have yet to see anything come to fruition.

              Garmin, TomTom and the other usual suspects don't appear to be offering anything other than some lame "connect your smartphone to your GPS device and do pointless stu

            • by grrrl ( 110084 )

              If you live where there's no reception then just buy the TomTom app for iPhone. A dedicated GPS isn't anything special.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              > What is needed is a bluetooth way to send an address to the damn thing directly from the phone. Why do they all forget this feature?

              The (useless) navigation system in my car supports beaming addresses and contacts to it via IR from your Palm Pilot. No joke,

        • by grrrl ( 110084 )

          Ironically my 1982 car with tape player is more compatible with the latest smartphone than my 1999 car with CD-player with no auxiliary inputs.

          At least both of them have standard sized head units that can be changed. There was a period (maybe 2004-2009) where custom head units were all the rage, but they largely lacked iPod or even aux inputs, bluetooth, even mp3 support and they can't be easily updated today. Totally whacko.

          Totally agree the car of the future docks your smartphone and off you go. Possibly

      • No kidding - open up OBD-II port, let me mount a small tablet in the middle of the dash, integrate steering wheel controls for sound and climate control ... we'll take car of the rest.
      • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

        Why do they bother?

        insert proximity switch here
        insert detonation here
        if proximity switch=0
        then detonate

        it's for the children otherwise the terrorists win.

      • Meh. I want to do less things to get where I'm going, not more. If I have to fiddle with docking my phoen every time I get in my car, that's really not a useability win. Plus, I have a bunch of strictly automotive apps installed on my phone that I don't need when I am away from the car. I think there is a good place for an open car computer system, running car specific apps.

        For example, I think it would be a good idea to keep track of my mileage and how much I spend on gas. An in-car app can detect whe

      • by Nexus7 ( 2919 )

        You mean like this?

        There's actually a newer and nicer-looking version of this, but I can't locate it ATM.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because then people will put it into park at stop lights, play until the car behind them honks and immediately shift into gear and drive before looking up from the screen. It also ensures the culture of apps installed will be appropriate.

      That said, this is AWESOME and, if these cars include decent sensors, like decent quality accelerometers and good GPS, we could get some kick-ass amateur racing (sanctioned, obviously, not street) apps.

      • Just think -- if you could hack into a network of cars and knew which cars played which musical notes, you could play merry havoc during gridlock by playing an orchestra of selected traffic. You'd be in control! Bieber for road rage, Star Wars theme at the red lights, a nice tango for the cloverleaf intersections -- the mind boggles!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fucking addict.

  • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:42PM (#42539097) Journal

    I refuse to trust anything he writes in about. After the incident at Miskatonic University, he should have had his medical license revoked!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That incident had nothing to do with writing, things just got ahead of him.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You take the word of a talking head over Dr. West? What, do you work in a sideshow or something?

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @06:50PM (#42539239) Homepage

    I thought maybe they were opening up the software that actually matters. No real chance of that, though.

    • by mirix ( 1649853 )

      Yeah, the title made me think they were releasing the source for the ECUs, not lame ass infotainment stuff.

    • by Fishead ( 658061 )

      Yeah, maybe first program the transmission not to SUCK, eh Ford?

      We had a 2011 F350 work truck that was almost comical (comical because in no way would we be financially responsible when it broke!)

      Sometimes when accelerating hard (pulling onto the highway from a stop) it would stick between gears and kill the throttle for 2 seconds, then shift into gear.

      Twice it revved up real high, then slammed itself into gear (pretty sure the wheels left the ground)

      If you held the gas pedal just right it would stay in sec

  • Malware developers...
    • Sure, car makers should go into their own app store business, since they totally know how to do that. Those people at Google, Apple and MicroSoft don't have a clue when it comes to IT so they owe it to themselves to see their devices jail broken and all sorts of stuff installed on them.
  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @07:04PM (#42539455)
    I had rented several cars with Microsoft SYNC and in _each_ case I had some kind of problem with it. Starting from losing Bluetooth connectivity (completely, until I reseted the computer by pulling a fuse) to suddenly setting volume to max and switching to AM radio while I was driving 65mph on a highway.

    And now they're trying to add additional crapware to the already buggy system?
    • I been watching the button less ads of Caddie. All I can think if texting and using a phone in a car is bad... just using the car is getting worse. When will the auto makers start to be sued for their broken by design in-dash smart systems?

      • by MeNeXT ( 200840 )

        At least the phones are getting it. Texting on the phone in the car is now hands free when you just speak to it I just haven't found a good one that voices the incoming texts...

        • by bjwest ( 14070 )

          If you're talking out loud, why not just call the other person? Or, you know, think of the other people on the road and wait until you're not in the car fucking driving somewhere?

  • I always wanted an auto-finger so I don't have to roll down the window in the winter.

  • It isn't even allowing me to register. Too bad- I have an app that automatically sends text messages to voice input/output mode when driving that would be MUCH nicer if it could interface with the car's speed detection than my rough estimates (for those interested, Text Soundly on the Google Play store). Not going to happen if I can't even download the SDK.

  • for an open source car then.
  • Around Xmas, my wife got into a car crash because a 17 y.o. girl decided to pass in a no-passing zone and lost control in the snow. So, we have had a rental while her car gets fixed. The rental is a ford with Sync. That is a PURE POS. I have been SO unimpressed by it. Esp. since I have spent a bit of time playing with the model S and seen that it is superior to Ford's junk.

    However, I am curios what OS GM is running. That might be worth while developing for (like the tesla).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it runs QNX...

  • I have a 2008 SportTrac with Ford's first-generation (AFAIK) SYNC. It's kind of nice, but OMG it gets paternalistic and annoying sometimes. They've been talking about releasing a SDK for Sync since... late 2008. I'll believe they're ever going to allow thirdparty apps when I personally see it.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to using my nice, rooted Android phone with a native app I'm working on that fools SYNC into thinking the fake bluetooth media player it's spoofing isn't actually a custom

  • Does this mean I can rewrite the absolutely wretched media player interface? Ford's SYNC is a whole lot of meh, why bother as it comes out of the box. There's almost not one single useful thing about any of it, and I'd love to be able to hack on it and try to make something useful out of it. Otherwise I just have a lot of useless buttons on my steering wheel and my dashboard.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court