I recently completed some proof-of-concept work for a major automotive manufacturer and I have come to the realization that the automotive manufacturer’s approach to the concept of the “Connected Car Platform” is going to run into growing pains as the pace of mobile innovation continues unabated.
One of first issues I ran into was that I did not own any of the client’s vehicles so I could not develop against an actual head unit but instead, had to use a head unit emulator. Each manufacturer has their own head unit (that is the screen in the dash and all the associated systems that controls the music and any information displayed on the screen) with their own custom software and approach to connectivity. This requires a mobile developer to work with a multitude of manufacturer’s SDKs in order to have their mobile app work with any number of vehicle platforms. The current state of the world in terms of mobile development for car platforms is very similar to what we found ourselves at a number of years ago when you were trying to decide how to support four or five different mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Microsoft, Blackberry and maybe Symbian).
Either you choose the top two or three, depending on the size of your development staff or looked at an expensive alternative such as Verivo. For the small mobile developer or development team, are you only going to support Ford and GM, leaving out all the other vehicle platforms? That might have worked in the 50s when GM and Ford dominated the automotive landscape, similar to what iOS and Android do in mobile today but not now. There are initiatives such as the Open Automotive Alliance, however, their goal is to bring Android Auto to vehicles. That cuts out the iOS platform and for families like mine who are blended (I have an Android phone but the rest of my family has iPhones), that won’t work. Apple has come out with CarPlay but again, supporting that platform in a vehicle cuts out the Android consumer. (more…)