The connected car industry looks to a bright future, with global revenue projected to reach $141 billion by 2020. That’s all well and good, but automakers will not travel the road alone. In fact, the connected automobile is actually just one part of what will be a colossal ecosystem of vehicle-centric IoT devices. Connecting them all together will be connected car APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces.
APIs are simply blocks of programming code that enable communications between software programs. They perform the “handshaking” operations between programs, relieving developers of the need to write the code that makes programs work together. By bridging connected cars to mobile apps, connected car cloud services, and IoT infrastructure, APIs form the glue that holds all the pieces of the connected car ecosystem together.
As third-party products emerge to provide services for the connected car market, automakers are increasingly incorporating APIs into their platforms.
In this article, we look at 10 companies that are shaping the connected car industry through connected car API-based products. As these examples indicate, application programming interfaces for connected cars benefit OEMs, and 3rd-party developers, and consumers.
Ford exemplifies how APIs can benefit the connected car with AppLink, a suite of APIs that brings mobile device functions into the vehicle’s Human-Machine Interface (HMI). AppLink enables developers to write mobile apps that will allow drivers to control mobile apps using such OEM features as:
- steering wheel buttons
- voice recognition system
- console touchscreen
- in-vehicle facial emotion detection
AppLink does not require the installation of apps on the vehicle OEM head unit, helping keep critical systems secure while keeping drivers’ hands on the wheel where they belong.
2. General Motors
General Motors takes API-based development to an even higher level. The GM NGI, or Next Generation Infotainment software SDK, offers developers a huge collection of tools for creating powerful API-based connected car applications.
Here is a partial list of the features the NGI SDK provides:
- access to more than 350 vehicle data points
- access to onboard GPS data
- native HTML/CSS/JS functionality
- access to accelerometer and orientation data
The SDK includes a vehicle emulator for testing apps before actual in-vehicle testing.
Toyota and Servco Pacific (Servco) have partnered to develop an API-based car share platform, called the Mobility Services Platform (MSPF).
When development and testing is complete, Hawaii-based Servco will use the platform to manage its Toyota vehicle car share program.
The platform will facilitate the following functions:
- driver authentication
- unlocking vehicles via smartphone
- payment processing
- fleet management services
A key advantage of incorporating APIs into the MSPF platform is the flexibility they provide as new features are added.
Just as connected car technology has transformed the automotive industry, Samsung intends to use APIs to transform itself into a connected-car-friendly company. Head of the Mobile Division of Samsung Electronics, Ko Dong-jin, stated the company’s wise intentions to enter the self-driving car market.
Samsung plans to infiltrate the connected car market with the personal AI assistant, Bixby, and says it will make APIs available to developers in October.
Once developers have access to the APIs, Samsung hopes they will write apps that will tap into the powerful features of the AI assistant. Some possibilities for Bixby-related app features include:
- voice command of mobile apps
- contextual awareness of commands
- voice command over non-critical vehicle features
- integration with Alexa
While even Samsung is not certain of all the ways Bixby will affect the self-driving car, they realize that the key to market growth will be providing APIs for 3rd-party app development.
5. Avis Budget Group
When you think of connected car innovators, you might not think of rental car companies, but Avis Budget Group is proving itself a worthy exception.
The Avis car Rental app provides users with a host of useful features, including:
- making and confirming reservations
- locating the nearest Avis Car Rental agency
- receiving roadside assistance
- upgrading rentals
Using custom APIs, Avis plans to provide airlines, corporate booking websites, and travel agencies access to Avis customers — and visa versa — through the Avis mobile app.
Zubie offers developers a suite of APIs that expose mobile apps to a wide range of vehicle data, such as the following:
- diagnostic codes
- fuel levels and usage
- odometer readings
- battery level and condition
- travel event timespan
Using Zubie developer APIs, mobile app programmers can create feature-rich applications for drivers, and for fleet management. Zubie also works with web and cloud-based platforms to make real-time data available online.
Imagine combining blockchain technology with an API platform for mobility companies across the globe and you immediately understand what DOVU is all about. The new UK startup has high ambitions, and some serious financial backing, as it builds an API-based mobility platform suitable for one and all.
DOVU has developed what amounts to its own connected car ecosystem, complete with its own blockchain currency — the DOVU coin, a Ethereum based DOV token.
Using the DOVU API Marketplace, developers can tap into APIs that facilitate sharing of data across multiple technologies and mobility sectors. A short list of features that the DOVU platform can support includes:
- customized platforms for car share companies
- real-time data for insurance companies
- marketing transport data to various industries
- secure exchange of distributed transport data
- real-time storage of geolocation data
DOVU aims to bridge the gap between transport data and those who need it, regardless of who or where they may be.
8. High Mobility
High Mobility fulfills the need 3rd-party developers have to build and test their applications across multiple automaker brands. While each auto company offers their own APIs to aid developers, each car company’s API is different. While tuning an app to work with different vehicle makes can be labor intensive, High Mobility’s API platform makes it as easy possible.
The High Mobility platform allows developers to create and test IoT apps without needing access to a real vehicle. Potential users include:
- software developers
- Android developers
- iOS developers
- mobility startups
- mobility payment processors
High Mobility is an excellent example of a company that uses APIs to interconnect the connected car ecosystem.
A major investor in connected car technology, Shell offers a solid development tool for 3rd-party developers — the Shell API suite.
Currently, the following APIs are available, which can be combined to create feature-rich mobile apps:
- Shell station locator API
- Shell Drive fuel usage monitoring API
- Fill Up & Go rapid pay fule payment app API
- Loyalty API enables tracking and rewarding customer loyalty
While Shell’s API are undeniably Shell-centric, they represent how APIs can be used even by non-technology companies wishing to enter the connected car marketplace.
RadioPlayer has capitalized on the need radio stations have to reach an increasingly-mobile audience. The Worldwide RadioPlayer API (WRAPI) enables OEMs to include full-featured hybrid radios in their vehicles.
Features exposed by the RadioPlayer API include:
- access to tens of thousands of radio stations
- RadioPlayer search engine
- presentation of radio station metadata
- integration with apps such as Apple CarPlay
RadioPlayer partners with broadcasters, automakers, developers, and hardware manufacturers to bring terrestrial and streaming radio stations to markets across the globe. RadioPlayer is an example of a company that uses APIs to capture a sector of the connected car market.
API software development requires a solid understanding of multiple platforms and programming languages. Add to that the complexity of automotive technology and you see the need for a technology partner that has proven expertise in connected car and API development. That would be Ignite.
We were experts in automotive technology when a car was still just a car, and we are experts in the latest connected car technology. From simple web APIs to custom API-based cloud platforms, our teams of world-class developers are qualified to develop your next connected car API product.
If you are looking for an outsource development technology partner, why not call us today for a no-cost consultation. Let’s get started.