Driving? There's an app for that.
At least that's what automaker Chrysler is hoping to hear in the near future thanks to latest version of its Uconnect software.
Starting with the 2013 models of the Dodge Ram 1500 and SRT Viper, Chrysler's 8.4-inch touch screen media center will support downloadable apps. A press release for the 2013 Ram 1500 explained:
Ram truck owners will be able to access select, certified in-vehicle applications. Driving-relevant applications will be introduced over time and are designed specifically for in-vehicle use. The certified applications are easily controlled with natural voice recognition or steering wheel controls to keep drivers focused on the road. The responsive 8.4-inch touchscreen includes the award-winning user interface designed by Chrysler Group Human Machine Interface engineers, featuring large icons and visual cues allowing consumers intuitive control of system features.
Apps "are updatable over the air", ensuring that drivers have the latest features as they become available. The Uconnect media center connects to the internet over a cell connection, which supports an in-vehicle WiFi hotspot.
While Chrysler apparently hasn't yet revealed which apps will be available initially, Chrysler isn't the only automaker looking to make the driving experience more interactive.
GM and its OnStar subsidiary, for instance, were one of the first to look to connect apps with vehicles and earlier this year, OnStar announced that it will be launching an API for creating apps that operate via the OnStar device, providing developers with an ability to build driving-related apps similar in nature to the ones it appears Chrysler's Uconnect will support.
Obviously, the app ecosystem for automobiles will be different. The requirements around security and certification, for instance, will almost certainly always be more robust, realistically limiting the size of this ecosystem in terms of developers and apps. But the potential for the app-ification of the car is huge and fewer apps and developers doesn't necessarily mean that this ecosystem won't eventually be huge when it comes to dollars.