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RIM invites its developers to test drive the connected car

BlackBerry developers may be losing enthusiasm for RIM’s(s rimm) newest operating system, BlackBerry 10, which has yet to make its way into a commercial smartphone, but on Tuesday RIM presented its developers with a new option: write code for the connected car.

At the SAE Convergence conference, RIM’s software subsidiary QNX unveiled the new software developer kit (SDK) for its forthcoming connected car application platform, which QNX simply calls Car 2. The platform is an extension of RIM’s BlackBerry WebWorks HTML5 framework, so a developer building an app for the BlackBerry 10 platform could use the exact same HTML and JavaScript tools to create apps for Car 2.

Emulating the smartphone development environment, QNX plans to expose connected car application programming interfaces (APIs) such as to GPS and navigation, car stereo and multimedia functions and even the climate control systems. Finally, QNX plans to launch the equivalent of App World for the car – a central marketplace where developers can upload their apps and buyers can purchase them.

The big difference: in the case of the connected car, those buyers aren’t car owners. They’re the automakers. Because of safety issues of a device platform moving at 60 mph, all connected car platform makers are putting up a lot more barriers between developer and consumer.

While the policy makes sense, as highly distracting apps could cause highway accidents, it’s also slowed the pace of development in cars to a crawl. Most connected car platforms out there only have a handful of apps, and for the most part automakers have leaned toward audio streaming apps like Pandora(s P) and Stitcher, as well as navigation and mapping services.

Still, by creating a development platform that bridges the smartphone and car infotainment worlds, RIM is making it easier for potential developer partners to experiment in the connected car space. And while RIM’s fortunes are declining in the smartphone market, QNX is still a powerhouse in automotive. Its software powers the infotainment, instrument and telematics systems of over 200 makes and models of vehicles.

Car 2 is meant to be the next generation of its automotive strategy, opening up its software to a much larger development community and creating a much more powerful platform for apps and services. On Tuesday, RIM also announced it was working with Nvidia(s nvda) to integrate the latter’s Tegra processors into Car 2-based infotainment systems.

BlackBerry developers hoping to take a crack at Car 2 will have to wait a little longer though. The platform itself will debut among automakers in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter of 2013, RIM will launch the app marketplace and make the SDK available to “qualified” developers. There’s no word yet if it plans to open up the program to all comers.

Mouse car image courtesy of Shutterstock user Mopic

6 Responses to “RIM invites its developers to test drive the connected car”

  1. Car security is a farce, always has been.. Security by obscurity with limited encryption, where the auto industry has neglected the area completely relying on CANBUS (Bosch/Intel) technology for onboard network technology.. The jeanie is already out of the bottle, the IVI systems over the past 3 years are easily hackable.. Until a genuine effort is made to fix the appalling onboard software implementations from the car vendors, by QNX or others (GENIVI alliance), it will be an area of genuine exploitation now the vehicles have onboard bluetooth and WiFi hotspots.. I can breach (locks or mess with the ABS) my 2009 BMW in less than 10 minutes and I not even a hacker!

  2. “Because of safety issues of a device platform moving at 60 mph, all connected car platform makers are putting up a lot more barriers between developer and consumer.”

    And that’s what they *should* do.

    “The policy [has]…slowed the pace of development in cars to a crawl.”

    Safety in cars is *way* more important than the pace of apps development!

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi Rich, I don’t disagree, and I say so. I’m just pointing out there are trade offs. It’s difficult to have a vibrant dev ecosystem while restricting it. The connected car platform makers are all trying to figure out the right balance. RIM is as well, and this is a good step.

      • I think it depends on what the app does. Is it Angry Birds or something that allows you to change some setting on your car when it is stopped and you are in the house?
        Not sure what that app would do but someone might think of something that will be a great idea and completely safe.

  3. “BlackBerry developers may be losing enthusiasm for RIM’s newest operating system”

    Really? Is that why RIM is enlisting developers in record numbers? Is that why RIM says BB10 will launch with the largest app store of any new OS? Is that why BB Jam has been selling out everywhere?