LAS VEGAS--Ford, BMW, and Toyota have them. Now, OnStar is the next in line to take a stab at the development of in-car apps.
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, the General Motors-owned telematics provider announced that it is selecting developers to be given access to an OnStar API for the creation of vehicle-specific and vehicle-safe apps for future OnStar-equipped vehicles.
"We want to give people 1,001 reasons to keep their OnStar subscription active," said Eric Litt, chief information officer at OnStar. "We feel that opening up our proprietary API to developers will ensure that OnStar continues to keep customers connected in ways they never thought possible."
The first app partner to be announced was RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that allows users to rent out their personal vehicles via the Web. With its new hook into the OnStar API, RelayRides users will be able to take advantage of remote features to, for example, unlock a reserved car with a smartphone app. Likewise, OnStar's location awareness, vehicle recovery, and roadside assistance features should help RelayRides to avoid the pitfalls of other less-successful car-sharing services.
OnStar will make its closed API available in the first half of 2012. Developers interested in the API should contact OnStar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll be interested to see what other app developers come onboard in the coming months and what interesting uses for OnStar's feature set they can find. We'll be bringing you more information about the API and future OnStar apps as this story develops. In the meantime, sound off in the comments with your ideas for cool in-car apps and stay tuned to our continuing coverage of CES 2012.