Auto Tech

Honda wants to help developers build better Android Auto apps

The newly announced Honda Developer Studio is both an online portal and a physical workspace located in Silicon Valley.

Ali Atri/Honda
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Honda's Developer Studio will give app developers access to prototype vehicles running Android Auto. Ali Atri/Honda

With the impending release of Google's Android Auto in-car app-mirroring software, smartphone app developers will gain the tools to become automotive app developers, as well. But what's good for the goose isn't always what's good for the gander; and Honda Motor Co. predicts that some of these developers will need help building apps that are useful, safe, and appropriate for use behind the wheel. On the eve of the 2014 LA Auto Show, the automaker has announced the opening of its Honda Developer Studio to do just that.

An offshoot of its Honda Silicon Valley Lab (HSVL), the Honda Developer Studio is both an online portal and a physical workspace located in a garage in Mountain View, Calif., that will put app developers looking to build software for the Android Auto in-vehicle environment into direct contact with Honda engineers, R&D teams, and experts on "automotive-grade" engineering principles. These developers will be able to get advice online regarding adapting their mobile apps to the Android Auto SDK, driver safety and privacy, and then get to test and refine their ideas in a prototype Honda vehicle running Android Auto.

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Honda tells us that it will have Android Auto on the road in 2015. Ali Atri/Honda

"App developer participation in the automotive space has the potential to transform the in-car experience," said Nick Sugimoto, senior program director for Honda Silicon Valley Lab. "We want to foster app developer participation and enthusiasm, and help them dream-up new experiences that will give drivers access to the latest in digital innovation."

A founding member along with Google of the Open Automotive Alliance, Honda hopes to help ease the learning curve for new automotive app developers and, along the way, improve the volume and quality of app integration across the industry. The automaker has stated plans to have Android Auto on the road in at least one of its models during the 2015 calendar year, so it's in Honda's best interest to make sure that there's a rich app ecosystem to greet consumers when the functionality reaches them.

The Honda Developer Studio will be opening its Mountain View garage this December. Developers can find more information online at the the Honda Developer Studio portal.