GM Announces New App Framework, SDK, And Store For In-Vehicle Apps

Ford today introduced its new AppLink API that allows mobile apps to talk to its cars. Not to be outdone, General Motors just introduced its own API and SDK for its new in-vehicle app platform. the big difference here is that while Ford uses a driver’s smartphone, General Motors’s framework for its MyLink platform is meant to let developers run apps hosted in the car’s infotainment system.

GM announced four potential launch partners for this new system: iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Slacker, and The Weather Channel. At least some parts of the SDK will allow developers to use HTML5 and JavaScript to write their apps, though details about this still remain sparse.

The company’s 2014 model year, which will launch in late 2013, will feature the first cars to have this new capability, but the company hasn’t announced which vehicles will get this feature first. The cars that will feature this system will allow drivers to download apps directly to the car through an app catalog.


In the announcement, GM Chief Infotainment Officer Phil Abram took a thinly veiled swipe at his competitors:

There will be a category of apps that will be unique to our cars and very different from what people use today on their smartphones or tablets. It’s not just taking phone apps and making them functional in a car, which most car companies do in some form now. Instead, GM may approve applications that stem from vehicle ownership. For example, customers can choose to download applications that assist them in driving more safely or in a more fuel efficient manner, possibly decreasing the costs of vehicle ownership.

Just like other manufacturers, GM previously only worked with a small number of developers. The new SDK, the company says, will “expand the environment so that developers can work with the actual vehicle through the infotainment system.”

“We have designed our SDK so that developers only have to write the software code once to address the entire population of vehicles and end users,” said Abram. “Developers can repurpose existing tools and code from existing projects as long as they’re consistent with applicable licenses. Our app policies will also provide flexibility in how developers can design commercial aspects of their apps as well.”

TuneIn’s CEO John Donham told us that his company is not just ” impressed with GM’s innovation, but also the magnitude of how broadly they will roll out this service over the next couple of years. This collaboration is a great example of how Motor City and Silicon Valley can revolutionize everyday activities to enhance the driving experience of tomorrow.”

Just like the system Ford announced today, GM will also obviously have a certification process before apps can be deployed to the car. The company also says that it will define a business model for these apps, but didn’t specify any details yet. It’s a safe bet, though, that GM will follow some of the standard app store policies and take a cut from sales (assuming the store will feature paid apps).