At CES 2012, GM was showing off their remote control and monitoring Android app, but I would say their more interesting announcement from the show was a new OnStar API, which will enable outside developers to start plugging into their connected electric car. To showcase the new capabilities, GM partnered up with the guys at RelayRides, which is basically Airbnb for cars. Using the mobile app, you will be able to post your vehicle as available for rent within certain dates, and if it's with a Chevrolet Volt, the car will only begin functioning in the specified timeframe. Once a rental time kicks in, customers can use the app to find the Volt via GPS, and remotely unlock the car to grab the keys inside. Even if you don't have a smartphone, you'll be able to unlock the car via text message. From the renter's side, you can search based on vehicle type, proximity, timeframe, price, and all of the other usual criteria. Rental rates can go as low as $5 to $6, which includes a million-dollar insurance policy.
This is pretty big news because so far, the only other car manufacturer seriously wooing app developers has been Ford, and they've been doing it for some time now with AppLink. They haven't been able to crank out a ton of apps since AppLink has come out, but RelayRides was apparently wrapped up in under a month. Of course, they made their app specifically for the OnStar API, so they might have been able to get it up a bit quicker than others will be able to, but it's a promising start.
The OnStar API will be available for Android and iOS starting in the first half of this year, but if you're interested in getting involved sooner than later, you can pitch your app idea to email@example.com.
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