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February 08, 2013

Carmakers Getting Serious About Branded Automobile Apps

Hyundai Motor America announced today that it had made a deal with MEDL Mobile to have automobile apps designed specifically for its cars. This collaboration won’t be Hyundai’s first foray into the mobile market, but it shows that car manufacturers are investing heavily in mobile technology.

Last year, Hyundai placed a telematics service called Blue Link into its 2012 Sonata. Now, most of the carmaker’s 2013 models are equipped with Blue Link technology.

The service delivers connectivity, safety and convenience service for Hyundai owners including Service Link for scheduling automotive service at a Hyundai dealership, and Eco-Coach for making driving more energy efficient.

With the latest version of its BlueLink mobile app, drivers can use their mobile phones for remote start as well as for locking and unlocking doors. The app also runs diagnostic tests on the vehicle and utilizes a car finder if the driver loses the car in a parking lot. Additionally, the app detects other cars with Blue Link, which is a useful feature for fleet management.

Ford is also investing in apps, but the company is taking a different approach. Ford rolled out its Developer Program in January, giving developers tools to customize their apps for Ford Sync technology through Ford AppLink.

While Ford wants apps related to networking, productivity and health, anyone can upload an app to Ford’s site. However, Ford plans to weed out undesirable apps, especially those with video, rich imagery, extensive text or gaming features.

At the end of the process, Ford Sync should allow mobile phone users to run their smartphone apps by speaking commands into the car’s dashboard. The feature minimizes the safety risks that come from tapping a smartphone screen while driving.

Ford and Hyundai aren’t the only automakers that are in on the mobile action. Toyota’s Entune, BMW’s MINI Connected and GM’s My Link/IntelliLink also work to integrate mobile apps into vehicles.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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