You have an incredible idea:you want to develop a car app that will help people planning a move figure out how to manage their vehicle transport. Or an app that will tell drivers if they saved more gas on a road trip by taking the Interstate or sticking to the back roads. Mobile apps are becoming more common for many vehicles. From Ford’s Sync system to GM’s OnStar, drivers are finding new ways to interact with their cars. As a developer, take advantage of dealer API programs to turn your vision into reality, and to earn money by filling a need in the market—before another developer beats you to it.
You can develop an app for a phone that has to do with driving or vehicles in general, but then you may fall victim to some consumer pushback because you’re putting an app for driving on a phone—and that could lead to distracted driving. However, if you distribute your app through a dealer API program, you make it clear that you’re promoting hands-free communication. Plus, you’re more likely to get high sales with that kind of built-in audience: people browsing dealer API program offerings are specifically looking for apps related to their driving experience.
Some API programs, such as Ford’s Sync system and its AppLink application interface, are made specifically for consumers to download the app via their phones and to sync their phones with their vehicles when they sit down to drive. With this kind of smartphone-car sync-up, you’ll have two platforms to develop for: both the car and the phone itself. In other words, you can think beyond just the driving experience and think of how your app might be used via the smartphone.
Via the Car
Some cars come equipped with sophisticated platforms for apps, such as GM’s OnStar. You may not need to worry about the phone component at all, and could focus entirely on what OnStar users could use in their vehicles. For example, some OnStar apps offer audio versions of headlines or weather updates so that drivers can keep up-to-date with the news without taking their focus off of driving. With the push of a button, OnStar users can check restaurant reservations or keep abreast of changes in traffic.
OnStar does offer smartphone compatibility, so your app development needn’t be confined to the OnStar platform itself, but this flexibility of platforms does allow you to more fully explore your ideas and what kinds of apps you’d like to develop.
What to Develop
The most obvious type of app that would interest the typical driver is just that: something to do with driving. Apps you may want to develop should focus on getting information across to the driver with minimal distractions and utmost convenience. You’re not going to be developing game apps, for example. Think of things a driver might be interested in via their car instead of their phone, such as:
- Taking phone calls
- Having texts read aloud to them
- Being able to dictate texts to send them
- Updates on news, weather, traffic and activities of particular interest to them
- Making and checking on reservations
- Buying tickets
Other ideas include more general car ownership apps, such as car buying, selling or maintenance. However, to sell an app to a driver, you don’t even need to focus on cars. With the phone-car syncing ability, you can think of all sorts of apps that might be of interest to a driver. For example, you might develop an app that makes it simple for someone listening to music on their phone or MP3 player to continue listening to the music on their stereo.
Dealer API programs are perfect for the developer who has a driving- or car-related app in mind. Dealers provide a platform for your app, so that’s more than half your work done—publishing the app in a place where it’s likely to get seen. All you need to focus on is developing a dynamic, must-have product, and let the API programs take care of the rest for you.
About the Author:Betty Medeiros is a contributing writer and tech blogger. She’s currently working on an app for the Ford Sync API program.