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Ford, GM open their dashboards

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#1 Orpheus

Orpheus

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

This has nothing to do with the OBD-II thread and Ford's Open XC platform [CAN] threads in the Creator's corner. OBD-II and the newer CAN are internal data/command buses which have been in cars for many years. Most people know them for the "error codes" that mechanics or safety inspections often use, or dashboard warning lights you often have to go to the dealer to reset, but they also carry a lot of potentially useful data like second-by-second fuel consumption, timing, oxygen sensors, etc. which can be used to monitor you car's performance or diagnose problems. A CAN reader is now #2 on my "don't own a car without it" list.

But, as I said, this thread is about something different: basically, Ford and GM are opening up their dashboard (and other display systems) to [approved] outside apps, and providing the Software Development Kit [SDK] necessary to write them.

Ford, GM Open Their Dashboards to Outside Developers

Though the need for approval by the automaker may limit the initial offering (probably a good idea, given the number of evil or idiot programmers out there -- and Ford has said it will instantly deny video, text or game apps), I heartily applaud this measure. Ford actually introduced its Sync AppLink system three years ago, but its in-house offerings were meager, mostly audio/entertainment.

I find this paucity incredibly ironic because I have an entire page on my cell phone filled solely with automotive apps. It's my home away from home.

I use GasBuddy to find cheap gas along my route: at $3-4/gal, it doesn't pay to go very far out of the way, but I often see price differences of $0.20/gal (or $0.60/gal with club membership) just a  mile or two off the highway -- and I routinely drive across parts of 3-4 states, with wildly varying prices. Should I wait until I cross the border, or would that be a big mistake? (In some states, prices vary ny town or county) Fill up here or on my way back?

There are a number of traffic-monitoring apps. Yes, I could subscribe to a service like onStar or the traffic monitoring from my GPS maker, but I don't merely work 9-5 (more like 6-"when I'm done") so I don't face traffic on my commute, and can't justify the subscription. Besides, it's free on my phone.

I also make extensive use of WiFi when I'm out and about, shopping and running errands, and would probably use various internet based services much more [with my eyes firmly on the road] if they were conveniently available from my dashboard. My WiFi finder/seeker get s a lot of use.

Also, because I range so widely in my off hours, I make heavy use of store finders to efficiently structure my errand days. My GPS was great for that for the first two years after its map update, but things change.

And of course, there's CAN/OBD apps like Torque, which turn a tablet into a more informative dashboard than you've ever imagined (but that's another thread)

Those are just a few of the apps I use in the car. Your list is likely to be completely different. I look forward to a future when our dashboards can have as diverse a toolkit as out tablets and phones

I'd be particularly interested in hearing what apps you find useful on the road, or which ones would be on your wishlist.



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