Honda’s new Developer Studio, announced just prior to the opening of the LA Auto Show, is a significant move by a major automaker to create a direct relationship between outside app developers and their own in-house engineers, R&D teams and project managers. This will, according to Honda, allow developers to conform to automotive-grade engineering standards as well as test and refine their work in a prototype Honda vehicle running the latest Android Auto platform.
As other automakers discover the wisdom of outsourcing their infotainment app development, Honda takes a major step forward and creates a rich environment for app developers to work within their company culture to create better user interface, higher integrity data security and more practical driver safety. A founding member of the Open Automotive Alliance alongside Google, Honda recognized early on that its expertise in transportation did not include in-car technology requiring a twelve-month refresh cycle.
Along with Honda, at least nine other major auto makers have announced that they will support both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Currently only Ferrari has CarPlay installed in their 2014 California T, while Android Auto-equipped cars from Honda are expected ship in the 2015 model year.
Collaborating with companies such as Honda, tech companies will obviously leave critical vehicle systems development such as pre-braking, blind-spot monitoring and other safety features to the automaker. “There’s no way Google or Apple are prepared to design those systems, and that’s where the automotive companies are really experts,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of connected services solutions at Ford. “Our strategy is having the best blend.”
We agree entirely and we hope this will put CarPlay and Android Auto back on the development track among automakers that appear to be having difficulties in bringing the technologies to market. Volvo, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz had all previously announced CarPlay and/or Android Auto will be available in at least one of their 2015 model year vehicles, yet all three have walked back their introduction timeframes.
Using Honda’s Developer Studio as a model, automakers can straighten out their advanced infotainment programs and deliver better in-car connected experiences that they have been promising consumers for a long time.