Car companies from Ford and GM to Toyota and BMW, are racing to transform the car into a platform. According to Programmableweb's own Janet Wagner, Ford recently released an API to connect its SYNC AppLink system to developer apps. The system focuses on news, music, and navigation, and is
"a vehicle-controlled, voice-activated technology available on a limited number of Ford vehicles that makes it possible for smartphone applications to be accessed and used via voice commands. The Ford Developer Program makes it possible for developers to create voice-enabled smartphone applications that offer hands-free access for users."
Developers are swarming into the field, as Brad McCarty reports in The Next Web,
"A mere 48 hours after launching its Developer Program at CES, Ford is passing on the news that over 1,000 developers have already signed up for the Sync AppLink SDK. The company tells me via email that it’s seeing a sustained traffic rate of around 300 visitors per hour from around the globe, indicating that there’s a worldwide interest in the program which will opened first in the United States."
But as Chris Cullmann from Olgilvy CommonHealth Worldwide reports on the Consumer Electronic Show, car connectivity is leaping beyond just connecting our iPods and phones to the car, to embrace health issues related to driving.
"The application program interfaces (APIs) released at this year’s CES offer developers access to systems within the car: environmental conditions, braking and acceleration information, climate control status. All of these are useful information if we are keeping our drivers and their passengers safe. Inconsistent acceleration and braking may be signs of an alertness issue or, if a patient is recovering from cardiac complications, signs of a heart attack."
Health monitoring connected to driving can encompass implanted defibrillators, monitoring of insulin levels, Cullmann reports.
Beyond health, the "Internet of things" is being driven by car companies in many directions. Carvoyant is focusing on a different kind of health--monitoring the health of your car. As Sarah Perez reports in Techcrunch, "The devices plug into the OBD port, and then share data over the cellular network directly with Carvoyant."
Could the burgeoning car sharing movement pose a speed bump to complex apps? After all, how will you learn to run them if you're just using a particular model car for a day? Stepanie Steinberg and Bil Vlasic report in the New York Times that people renting cars
"...are all drawn by the rising popularity of car sharing. Last year, about 800,000 people belonged to car-sharing services in the United States, a 44 percent increase from 2011, according to Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley."
The car sharing phenomenon could, alternatively, act to boost interest in the car as platform. People renting cars by the hour or by the day will likely gain experience with different car platforms faster than those who own the same car over a period of years. It's not to hard to imagine these platform savvy drivers starting to shift the market, demanding to use cars with certain popular features, in a kind of market driven survival of the fittest platform contest.