Weekly Brief: Apps, Android Auto are talk of town at LA Auto Show

In this week’s Brief: Google, LA Auto Show, Hyundai, iHeartRadio, MLB.com, NPR, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, TextMe, TuneIn, WhatsApp, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, CloudCar, Twitter, Yelp, BMW, MINI, Volkswagen, Masternaut and AutoTrader.

Developers, get busy.

Google used the glitz and glam of the LA Auto Show to release the first two APIs for Android Auto. Developers with existing apps for Android 5.0 or higher can now extend those apps to cars without getting bogged down in vehicle-specific hardware differences. The APIs support audio apps that use audio playback from the car (music, podcasts, news, etc.) and messaging apps that help users receive incoming notifications, read messages aloud and send replies via voice from the car.

Hyundai had a demo set up at the LA Auto Show that let users take a couple Android Auto apps for a test drive. In 2015 we expect to see the first automakers release Android Auto on consumer-ready cars. Until then, Google is reminding developers that all of their work will be in a beta mode of sorts, alongside a host of partners: iHeartRadio, MLB.com, NPR, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, TextMe, TuneIn and WhatsApp, to name a few.

If you’re a developer, see here for a Getting Started guide.

Here for the Android Auto Developers Google+ community.

And here for a video introduction to Android Auto.

Google wasn’t the only one to talk apps at the LA Auto Show. Honda announced the Honda Developer Studio, an online portal and open innovation workspace in Silicon Valley where app developers can work directly with Honda engineers. The goal is help developers refine their ideas and accelerate their learning curve while getting good apps into cars faster. Honda gave a shout out to the new Android Auto APIs; starting in December, the Honda Developer Studio will enable app developers to test their Android Auto apps in a prototype vehicle environment and collaborate with Honda R&D teams.

Jaguar Land Rover launched justDrive, a technology that allows Jaguar Land Rover’s InControl infotainment system to integrate multiple smartphone apps into a single, voice-activated in-car experience. The technology comes from Silicon-Valley-based CloudCar and includes popular apps and services across navigation, media and social, from the likes of Spotify, Twitter and Yelp. justDrive is a free download on Apple iOS 8 and on Android starting in early 2015.

In the Connected Car Expo at the LA Auto Show, BMW and MINI announced that they’ve integrated music streaming service Spotify into their vehicles. If you’ve got Spotify on your iPhone, now you’ll have it in select BMWs and MINIs too, accessible on and optimized for the in-dash screen.

Outside of LA, Volkswagen revealed in an article with Auto Express that it plans to have autonomous driving technologies implemented across its range of cars within the next five years. Those technologies are still in development at VW’s Electronic Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley and include “automated driving,” which works below speeds of 40mph and can take full control of the car with steering, speeding up, slowing down, and braking; and “automated parking,” which allows drivers to hop out of their vehicles and initiated parking manoeuvres with their smartphones or car keys.

In fleet, research surfaced out of the Masternaut camp that people who drive for their jobs are more likely to speed in their employer’s cars than in their own — that the result of a survey of 2,000 UK employees. Forty-eight percent of Brits who drive for their jobs admit to speeding at work, with a quarter of those saying they’re more likely to speed in a vehicle provided by their employer than their own.  

“We were surprised that people feel that it’s more acceptable to speed for work than pleasure, and there’s a serious message about the role of the employer in providing duty of care to their staff and the public at large,” says Martin Hiscox, CEO and chairman of Masternaut, who called for transport companies, fleet operators and field service organisations to place the reduction of corporate risk and improving health and safety for staff higher up on their agendas. Full white paper available on request.


Finally, who doesn’t love an infographic, especially when that infographic touts the rising influence of connected car features at the point of purchase. Check the infographic here from AutoTrader for some compelling stats from its 2014 In-Vehicle Technology Shopper Influence Study about how powerful connected features can be in swaying buyers these days.



The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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