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Dash Navigator gets open API

Now developers can put their own apps on your GPS device.

Dash Express Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

Dash, which makes the very cool Dash Express GPS gizmo for cars (review), has opened up an API so developers can build new apps for the unit. On announcement, according to a company press release, several apps will be available: a homes-for-sale app from Coldwell Banker, a calendar app that can read appointments from Outlook, Google and automatically route you to them, a weather app from WeatherBug, a speed trap app from Trapster, and Mediaguide, which can display the songs that just played on local radio stations.

I want the Trapster app. Not only is this the most useful of the apps, I believe, it's also the one that leverages the Dash's two-way capability the best: You can add to the Trapster database when you drive through a speed trap yourself. There may even be a button that says, "Yo, I am getting pulled over right now." (I haven't tried the service yet; I don't know.)

Even cooler would be: Let me connect my Valentine One to the Dash device to update the database automatically.

The Dash API program faces two small problems, though: First, there's the chicken-and-egg issue for a non-market-leading platform. Dash is hardly the best-selling GPS product, even if it is the coolest. Developer interest will wane unless consumers start to get behind this product.

Second: Safety. I don't know how Dash is going to ensure that developers don't build distracting or confusing apps that get their users into trouble when they're driving. Building for the "60-m.p.h. user interface" is not something many developers have experience with. Hopefully this will be addressed is Dash's presentation at the Where 2.0 conference Wednesday morning.

Current Dash Express users can go to the MyDash site for apps.