To be clear, OnStar's API is still closed, but GM's telematics service will accept applications from developers and based on what they submit, will then grant them access to OnStar's 1s and 0s.
So what can we expect to see? Not much until OnStar opens the doors in the first half of this year. But it has announced a partnership with RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that lets owners of OnStar-equipped vehicles to rent out their rides when they're not being used. By using the OnStar API, RelayRides will be able to approve a vehicle for use and then using an iPhone or Android app, the renter can unlock the doors to a vehicle that's been reserved in advance.
It's one of many products that will be hitting the market this year and you can read about a few more in the release after the break.
RelayRides peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace first 2012 business partner
LAS VEGAS – OnStar will give selected developers access to a proprietary application program interface (API) to create innovative mobile applications designed to interact with OnStar's suite of services.
OnStar services are enabled by its Advanced Telematics Operating System. ATOMS is the most-powerful automotive cloud platform in the market today – connecting to more than 6 million OnStar customers. Apps created using the API will deliver services and functionality in the same manner. Giving safe access to the ATOMS Cloud Platform is part of a broad 2012 growth initiative OnStar announced Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show.
"Research shows that the amount of mobile applications for the Android and iOS platforms is likely to double in the next 12 months," said OnStar President Linda Marshall. "Customer demand is driving a new marketplace for a variety of automotive applications.
"With this step we believe we can broaden our portfolio, grow our business and enable our customers to achieve additional functionality from their vehicle using their computer, smartphone, tablet or other devices," Marshall said.
Internal research of OnStar's customer base revealed that emergency and security services are most important to customers followed by navigation, vehicle information and diagnostics. OnStar will continue to develop and expand services in these areas, but the proprietary application interface could lead to a further-customized experience for many customers.
"We want to give people 1,001 reasons to keep their OnStar subscription active," said Eric Litt, chief information officer, OnStar. "We feel that opening up our proprietary API to developers will ensure that OnStar continues to keep customers connected in ways they never thought possible."
The first partner to use OnStar's API will be RelayRides, the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace that holds an exclusive partnership with GM. With RelayRides, millions of GM vehicle owners will soon be able to leverage OnStar to rent out their idle cars with the owner controlling the rates and availability of the car. By using the OnStar API, RelayRides will allow its renters to use remote features with their smartphones, such as unlocking GM vehicles to access the reserved car.
"Through our work with OnStar, we are jointly defining the cutting edge of smart mobility," said RelayRides founder and Chief Community Officer Shelby Clark. "With access to the OnStar API, carsharing has never been safer or more convenient. We are looking forward to rolling out the program in early 2012."
In the past, OnStar has worked on API-based solutions with companies like Mapquest and Google to provide the company's eNav service. An API solution was also used in the company's beta test of Facebook Audio Updates.
OnStar will make its closed API available in the first half of 2012. Developers interested in the API should contact OnStar at firstname.lastname@example.org.