OnStar Expands Mobile App Availability

OnStar will be offering smartphone control over some basic vehicle functionality to a broader range of 2011 model year vehicles including most of the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC models.

Functionality will include key fob functionality (door locks, remote start) as well as the standard OnStar Remote Vehicle Diagnostics etc.

It does feel like this type of thing is becoming standard fare and there is nothing wrong with that (this is really just an extension of the web based application and sure didn’t take to much effort to port to smartphones).  Once again, these types of apps are usually win-win for the customer and OEM… The cost of delivering remote door unlock through a smartphone is infinitely less than having to use a call center and, as an end user, I think it’s a whole lot easier to click an on-screen than to talk to someone.

Each brand is expected to release information as they release their apps tailored for their particular customer demographic.
“We’re working aggressively to bring the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC applications to market as soon as possible,” says Joel Ewanick, vice president, GM Marketing. “Because we know that each brand’s customers have different tastes, wants and needs, the apps will be very specifically tailored to offer them the services they value most, leveraging these innovative OnStar features as a compelling mutual foundation.”

For now we’ve already covered the OnStar Mobile App for the Chevy Volt and it sounds like these new apps wont be much different.
Checkout the Video below…

via [...] Continue Reading…

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Status Update: Onstar likes Facebook

BusinessWeek.com reports that OnStar will be adding Facebook to it’s bag of tricks GM owners can use while driving.

Nothing official from OnStar yet, but it sounds like this is going to happen sometime this month.

Clearly OnStar has to up it’s infotainment services to compete with Ford Sync (and the other players bringing up the rear) and they will likely also move some services to free a la Ford Sync.

In the end, pretty much all of these platforms are going to offer the same services from location-based-this to social-networked-that (very much like most major smartphones can all do the same thing) and the true point of differentiation will be how these services are delivered.

via [Bloomberg]

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iPhone Most Popular Camera On Flickr, Can Cars Learn Something?

It’s no surprise that the iPhone is the most popular camera used to take pictures hosted on Flickr.  It’s probably the single most popular consumer device that has a camera, the quality has improved, and it’s connectivity as a phone allows it to upload directly to Flickr (rather than meaning to upload all those pictures and getting lazy about it).

The thing worth noting here is that a camera does not need to be top of the line to be useful to people and the ability to upload on-the-fly is key.  The car is such a mobile platform and ubiquitous part of daily life that it should have a camera and not just a wonky backup camera.

Cameras (internal and external) would offer all sorts of engaging applications.  With built-in geotagging and upload capabilities the car might even be able to rival the smart phone as a source of still images and video.

Cars will eventually have cameras for things like lane recognition, but there will definitely be more fun options than that.  What would you use a CarCam for?

via [holykaw] via [picturemore]

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inTELEMATICStoday.com LinkedIn Group

inTELEMATICStoday.com has launched our LinkedIn group.  Join in for the latest news and conversations in the world of automotive telematics.  inTELEMATICStoday.com is going strong and now we can interact on the largest business networking social media site in existence.  Check in regularly for news and discussions from around the telematics, wireless, automotive industries and much much more.

We’re working on expanding in a few places and this is just the first step.  Join in the conversation!

In Telematics Today LinkedIn Group

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Attenzione Prostitute – Hilarious Road Sign

A little chuckle to end your week… A road sign only the Italians could bring us.  Something might be lost in translation, but I doubt it.

via [jalopnik]

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Ford Announces AppLink

Today, Ford announced AppLink, the in-car application that will reside on the Sync system and enable developers to take advantage of voice and hard-button controls to interact with applications on Android and Blackberry smartphones.

We’ve already covered the Sync Apps and APIs extensively so click through to the original post to read more.

You can also check out the Ford Sync category for more extensive information on the Ford Sync system.

Full text of the press release below.

SYNC AppLink to launch on 2011 fiesta, MAKING FORD FIRST TO DELIVER voice control of smartphone apps

· Ford will first offer SYNC® AppLink, a downloadable software program, on the 2011 Fiesta, allowing owners to access and control AndroidTM and BlackBerry® smartphone apps with voice commands and vehicle controls

· Pandora internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio” and Orangatame’s OpenBeak are the first SYNC-enabled mobile applications

· Ford to create SYNC developer community with launch of new “Mobile Application Developer Network” (www.syncmyride.com/developer), giving developers a pathway to partner with Ford on SYNC-enabled applications

· Ford’s platform approach with SYNC is poised to harness smartphone app development and mobile web access; apps expected to be a $4 billion industry by 2012; analysts predict the mobile device to become the No. 1 source for Internet access by 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, April 20, 2010 – Customers have spoken — asking for safe, convenient access to their smartphone apps while in the vehicle – and Ford is responding by announcing the new SYNC AppLink software that will allow hands-free voice control of popular smartphone apps.

SYNC [...] Continue Reading…

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Driver Distraction Series Earns Pulitzer Prize

If you haven’t been keeping up with Matt Richtel’s New York Times series of articles on driver distraction now would probably be a good time to start.  The Pulitzer Prize committee (it’s a committee, right?) has awarded a Pulitzer Prize to:
Matt Richtel and members of The New York Times Staff for incisive work, in print and online, on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks, stimulating widespread efforts to curb distracted driving.
The series of articles, a game, some videos and the timeline of cellular phones lays out a pretty strong case for the need to address driver distraction.

I’ve already written about some of the articles, but I couldn’t possible cover it all.  If you’re interested in learning more about driver distraction you should definitely start with inTELEMATICStoday.com, but after that the NYT Pulitzer Prize winning series probably isn’t a bad option either.

via [NYT]

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iPhone OS 4.0 Has Automotive Implications

The recent release of the iPhone OS 4.0 included at least a few new features that will benefit the automotive industry.

Multitasking has gotten the headlines and rightfully so.  It is a powerful addition and something that has been significantly lacking from the iPhone arsenal (much like copy and paste was lacking for so long).  For your reference, multitasking means that multiple applications can be run simultaneously and applications can run tasks in the background.  This is important because previously an iPhone app couldn’t work without being actively open.  For example, users of location based apps like Latitude and Loopt had to keep apps open to have their position updated.  Multitasking allows ‘background location’ which means that users can actually check their email without giving up the location updates.  This is a key element of making location based services and advertising a viable element of the iPhone environment.

Background audio means that apps like MP3s and Pandora can now listen to music while using a separate app for navigation…a logical next step when you think about this next thing.

The second feature is what is being called ‘iPod out’ and speculation is that it points to an iPod / iPhone automotive dock coming from Apple. A simplified interface and dash mounted dock would go a long way towards making the leading smartphone a bit easier and safer to use in the car.  The details are still rolling in so you can check back for details, but it seems clear that Apple is [...] Continue Reading…

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Eric Schmidt Says, “Mobile Is The Future”

Google’s Eric Schmidt has been on the campaign trail for mobile technology for I don’t know how long.  His talk at Atmosphere (Google’s come-to-cloud-computing conference) was about mobile and the future of technology. He didn’t talk about it’s impact on automotive, but we will.
“We understand that the new rule is mobile first,” Schmidt said. “Mobile first in everything. Mobile first in terms of applications. Most first in terms of the way people use things. And it means … that we have a role now to inform, to educate through all these devices.”
Schmidt mentions education being a key element of the future of mobile and we previously talked about how kids and education can be wrapped into rear-seat entertainment systems.

Schmidt also said, “What is important now is to get the mobile architecture right. Because mobility will be the way you will provision in the future.  Fast forward 5-10 years. The answer should always be mobile.”

Generally the discussion has been about the mobile web and smartphones (etc), but there is an extremely important lesson to be learned by the automotive industry.  The framework that is established in the vehicle is the key to a successful system.  The architecture has to be something that is flexible enough to be customized, but more importantly it needs to be extend-able.  One of histories many lessons has to be that what consumers want now is not necessarily what they want in two years.  Future telematics platforms needs to be developed with this in mind.

The technology world [...] Continue Reading…

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Great writeup from Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics on the recent RIM purchase of QNX.

It’s a big move towards automotive from one of the leaders in smartphones (even if it is still more business oriented).
While QNX’s partnership with Alcatel-Lucent promises to target the complete spectrum of in-vehicle connectivity, a partnership with RIM opens up wider market opportunities for both QNX and RIM. The timing of the deal is ideal given that several OEMs participating in volume segments of the market have yet to launch branded, high-profile connectivity solutions. There is still time for a RIM-QNX collaboration capable of helping RIM vault into contention with both Nokia and Apple for automotive connectivity leadership.
There is a lot to keep an eye on here, so you can expect to hear a lot more.  For now, click through and have a read.

via [strategy analytics]

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Pearl Mobile DTV Is A Big Deal For Mobile TV

Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., ION Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., NBC, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media today announced plans to form a standalone joint venture to develop a new national mobile content service.

I don’t have much news other than what is in the press release, but it seems like this joint venture, called Pearl Mobile DTV Company, automatically becomes a major player in mobile TV.  What does this mean for FloTV?

Pearl Mobile will take advantage of the “ATSC-M/H, an open broadcast transmission system developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) specifically for mobile devices.”  This technology is backwards compatible with existing broadcast DTV standards, so existing DTV receivers will need no modification to receive signal (usually this means the hardware will be cheap and widely available).  Almost most importantly, given the players coming together as part of this endeavor they are guaranteed content people want to watch.  And as we all know, content is king.

The release says, “The venture is designed to complement the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Initiative by giving consumers mobile access to video content while reducing congestion of the nation’s wireless broadband infrastructure.”

I don’t know exactly what that means, I do intend to figure that out.

For the automotive industry, the establishment of a mobile TV standard and the adoption of that standard is a big deal.  Satellite TV never really hit the mark and Flo has been making progress, but they are [...] Continue Reading…

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A Brief History of Location Finding Technology

Mashable is running this great infographic / timeline of the history of technologies used to find location.  From smoke signals to the modern day smartphone we’ve come a long way.  Check out the graphic below (click to enlarge).

via [mashable]

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Rear-Seat Entertainment Sales to Double by 2015

iSuppli is forecasting that by 2015 worldwide sales of rear-seat entertainment systems will almost double their 2009 level (of 3.1 million units) reaching 5.6million units (with the US accounting for ~50%).

With the oncoming proliferation of apps and advanced connected applications the RSE market is a huge opportunity.  I’ve already spent some time talking about how kids could fit into telematics strategies and some of the potential for RSE systems.

Because RSE users are encumbered by all those silly driver safety laws they can become (and rapidly are becoming) rolling media centers / offices.
Toyota, meanwhile, has an RSE in its new 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan that features a 16.4-inch-wide screen drop-down LCD, a DVD player, a 100W AC 120V outlet, an auxiliary input for gaming systems or other devices, and an iPod interface.

At present, the largest display for an RSE system anywhere allows for a split-screen view when two sources have been activated. Next are the 10.2-inch screens—seen on the new 2011 Audi A8, and whose RSE system will include its own AMI, a 20Gbyte HDD, two SD card slots, a DVD player, a Human Machine Interface (HMI) and connectivity with the rest of the vehicle.
With the availability of mobile broadband, especially 3G-to-WiFi devices, that allow mobile connectivity for one or more passengers make streaming music / video, web browsing, email, on and on, so easily accessible that it’s hard to imagine a future for RSE that doesn’t include large touchscreens and connected apps.

via [isuppli]

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Making Foursquare Work for Business. Could Dealerships Learn Something?

Mashable.com has 5 ways brands are using Foursquare to boost their business.

The article talks about how the Wynn Las Vegas, City of Chicago, Lucky Magazine, Tasti D-Lite, and Starbucks are using Foursquare to increase customer engagement, loyalty and satisfaction within the check-in and badges framework of the location based application.

Maybe this type of brand integration is the type of additional revenue stream that might help justify and speed up the adoption rates of OEMs.  Given that the car is how most of us enable our own mobility is the car the best opportunity for location based games / ads like Foursquare?

The city of Chicago’s approach of using badges and tips to inform visitors to restaurants, neighborhoods, parks, etc is intriguing as a smart phone application, but what about directly integrated into the vehicle navigation?  Starbucks use of Foursquare to reward frequent customers and gauge activity at locations is one model that will translate very closely to the relationship between customer and dealership.

I’m absolutely sure that OEM’s can use an app like Foursquare to engage customers visiting dealerships.  Not only to reward returning customers for an oil change, but also to connect with customers who are out shopping for a new car (and maybe check-in at multiple dealerships in the same day).

The opportunities are almost literally limitless…

via [mashable]

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App Downloads Will Near 6Billion in 2010

ABI Research reports they expect just under 6 billion mobile application downloads in 2010 (more than double 2009 volume).  To be clear, this is a forecast of downloads, not the total number of applications that will be available.  The iPhone is expected to continue leading the charge (> 3Billion downloads) by a large margin with the Android platform a not so close, still significant, second (< 1Billion downloads).

The iPhone has a huge hardware lead, but Android is rapidly being rolled out across many different handsets.

The forecast expects revenue from mobile app sales to decline by 2012 as a result of price competition, but I would still expect overall revenue to increase significantly as mobile advertising comes into its own in 2010 and beyond.
According to Vice President of Forecasting Jake Saunders, “As competition heats up, app makers are both dropping prices and ‘going free’ to stay on top of the download charts.”
The proliferation of handsets and the adoption and integration of these technologies into the vehicle will only serve to further increase the app market.  The future of revenues is probably not in selling the apps so much as advertising and other related revenue streams.

Advertising in the car continues to be a question mark.  How can you deliver ads to the vehicle without making the driver and passengers want to kill themselves unobtrusively?  While many many service providers are scrambling to figure out location based mobile advertising the paid app market will continue to fuel the smartphone movement.

via [abi research]

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Product Spotlight: Continental AutoLinQ

AutoLinQ is Continental’s Connected Services Platform for the car.  Based on the Google Android OS the system will allow users to create and download applications directly to the in-vehicle system.

Continental’s ‘Always On’ concept is built around allowing the user to interact with the vehicle through various ‘views':
Mobile View

The user’s view from their mobile phone. A simple, intuitive text-based mobile interface that allows you to “text your car, and your car will text you back”.

Car View

The user’s view from the car. This is the primary feature area of AutoLinQ™. The CarView can include an in-vehicle display and compute platform, along witha pre-loaded Android™ application set.

Home View

The user’s view from the home (or office) computer. This feature includes a vehicle-hosted (or server-hosted) multimedia web portal that allows drivers to interact with their vehicles from the comfort of home or office. Functions supported in Home View include:

Online vehicle status and information
Vehicle security and control
Driver-specific application selection and download to vehicle
Driver-specific vehicle personalization
Vehicle diagnostics and dealer access
Online owner’s manuals
Driver-specific vehicle restrictions and owner SMS notifications
Enhanced trip planning and navigation
Social networking
Communication / Telephony / E-Mail
…and more.

Partner View

This web site is the foundation of the AutoLinQ™ Partner View. Its all about fostering a community of partners and developers that thoughtfully and safely open the AutoLinQ™ platform to the imagination of the world. Here, we intend to freely distribute open source tools and APIs that simply extend existing Android™ frameworks and tools.
Continental’s approach here is to allow the user to interact with the vehicle through all [...] Continue Reading…

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Where Do Kids Fit Into Telematics Strategies?

Where do kids fall into the world of in-car apps?

In the April 2010 edition of Fast Company Anya Kamenetz talks about how technology is impacting childhood creativity and the way kids learn.  It’s a great read and you should definitely click through the link at the bottom, but first I want to talk about how this movement might impact the automotive world.

Generally the focus of all telematics except streaming video has been the driver.  The burgeoning in-vehicle app ecosystem is generally focused on enabling the driver to interact with their phone or apps in a safer way.  On the other hand, the primary consumers of rear seat entertainment are children.  As every OEM and Tier1 moves to implement some sort of advanced telematics technologies taking advantage of brought in or downloaded applications I’ve heard nothing about rear seat entertainment and how this movement towards open frameworks will impact and be impacted by the kids in the back seat.
American children now spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media — as much time as they spend in school. Even more remarkably, they multitask across screens to cram 11 hours of content into those 7.5 hours. More and more of these activities are happening on smartphones equipped with audio, video, SMS, and hundreds of thousands of apps.
I have to believe that RSE is a major opportunity for the new breed of app enabled infotainment systems.  Sure, kids in the back seat could use their phones as they normally do, but [...] Continue Reading…

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inTELEMATICStoday.com Weekly Round-Up

In the grand American tradition of not working to hard on Friday inTELEMATICStoday.com brings you the weekly roundup. We know sometimes it can be difficult to click all those buttons to read the site every day of the week so not only do we offer you the option of having each weeks articles delivered directly to your mailbox, but we also offer this awesome summary of everything we had to say this week.

Now, sit back and enjoy a little reading before you take a long lunch and leave early… It is the weekend after all!

How Do You Use Apps In The Car? – The iPhone App Store has over 100,000.  The Android Marketplace just reached 30,000 apps.  Billions of downloads have already been delivered to devices and the market grows every day.  Users everywhere are becoming accustomed to downloading and installing applications that extend the utility of their devices and the car is the next platform that will benefit from this explosion in applications.

The Dangers of GPS, ‘The Simpsons’-style – In this clip from a recent Simpsons episode, Homer drives the kids to school, but reminds us to never blindly follow anyone (especially a GPS).  Now, maybe if the system he used had real-time data connectivity (or if he had listened to Bart) Homer wouldn’t have ended up where he did…10 feet off the ground.

The Internet Radio Universe – Roger Lanctot offers a great overview of what internet radio is and isn’t. We know that in-car connectivity is on the rise [...] Continue Reading…

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Ford Sync Has The Lead, Will It Hold On To It?

It’s a new foundation for the ultimate mobile device. The automobile will never be the same.
As the mobile web (i.e. sites specifically designed to be viewed on mobile devices) is being replaced by mobile apps and sites that are dual purpose (i.e. the standard site can be viewed reliably in a mobile browser) Google seems to think that developers should be leverage the mobile web to create cross platform applications.

Fast Company’s April’s 2010 issue includes an article by Paul Hochman on Ford, Sync and how the electronics platform is redefining the automaker that few people wanted anything to do with just a couple years ago.  It’s a good read and you should click through below to the full article, but first I want to highlight a passage from the end of the article.
Competition is looming. In addition to Kia, Audi, Mercedes, and other manufacturers are working on their own systems. “They obviously have a big lead,” says Koslowski, the Gartner auto analyst, about Ford, “but sometimes being a first mover doesn’t pay off. Think of Apple. There were plenty of MP3 players in the market before it introduced the iPod. For Ford, the burden it has put on itself is to keep innovating. I think the company is capable, but it takes a commitment all the way from the top.”
This is an important point… Ford has the first mover advantage, but they’ve picked a strategy that no one else is using (yet) and not only do they need to [...] Continue Reading…

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The Mobile Web vs Apps vs Both

As the mobile web (i.e. sites specifically designed to be viewed on mobile devices) is being replaced by mobile apps and sites that are dual purpose (i.e. the standard site can be viewed reliably in a mobile browser) Google seems to think that developers should be leverage the mobile web to create cross platform applications.

As it stands now developers generally have to create versions of their apps for both the iPhone and Android (and webOS a distant 3rd) not to mention a separate version for the ‘standard’ web.  This can be a daunting task and in many cases developers will just go with iPhone development because it has the largest user base.

Technologies like HTML5 might offer developers an alternative option that not only works cross platform, but also removes application stores, over the air updates, memory issues and more from the equation.

For example, recently Apple and Google had a little tiff over gVoice apps the big-G tried to get approved in the iPhone app store. Long story short, after some back and forth, Google decided that developing a mobile version of Google Voice in HTML5 was a better option than bothering with app stores.  With a single blow Google created an ‘app’ that works on Windows Mobile,  the iPhone and my ever forlorn WebOS.  And, for the record, it works well…though I must say, not as well as the gVoice app that used to be available (the major difference is that you have to dial out to listen to [...] Continue Reading…

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