Smart Cars Take the Spotlight at CES 2013

CES has historically put a lot of emphasis on mobility, but this year automakers are taking it to the next level. Two of the biggest car manufacturers in the U.S. introduced new developer tools that may bring a whole new meaning to the term “application ecosystem.”

The first is Ford.  Yesterday, the company became the first major carmaker to adopt the App Store model with the official launch of its new, open developer program. Upon registration, studios and even individual users receive access to an SDK that enables their applications to connect with any Ford model that sports a pre-installed interactive entertainment system.

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“Until now, access to the AppLink API, which is available in more than 1 million vehicles and which will launch globally this year, was only available for a small number of companies,” reads one report. “While Ford held a number of developer events, access to the API remained limited.”

Ford wants both Android and iOS developers to integrate their apps with its systems, and we will undoubtedly see an influx of smart car applications in the coming months.

GM is doing the same thing as Ford’s long time competitor, but it’s taking a completely different approach to realizing its own smart car vision. The manufacturer revealed its application strategy at CES and just like Ford, it launched a developer portal. But GM is not looking to accommodate the mobile user – it just wants to make its cars smarter in the most literal sense of the word.

General Motors’ SDK is designed to help developers write applications for vehicles rather than phones or tablets. Car owners will be able to download these apps directly to their automobiles through GM’s app store, which will be accessible from several select models set to launch this year.