Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saab Announces new Android-based in-car OS - IQon

The open nature of Android has left the door wide open for car manufacturers to embrace it as a car-based platform, and a major car company has recently taken the plunge. Earlier this month, Saab announced IQon (press release here), the car-based "infotainment" system.

Saab will release an API for third party developers, and these apps will be sold on Saab's own app marketplace. Interesting stuff. I will continue to follow this as time goes on.

So, as an app developer, what does this mean for you? The Saab Blog has some more information:

I feel proud that Saab is leading the way in developing the most advanced car infotainment system that’s out there. It will deliver the multi-media experience we’re all used to in the office, at home, or on the move with our smartphones. But what’s even smarter with IQon, is that we’re opening up what the car is doing, as well. We will be giving the global developer community access to more than 500 data inputs – everything from vehicle speed to steering angle or the sun’s position – and challenging them to come up with some useful and imaginative IQon apps, which can be downloaded from our Saab IQon app store.

Then there is all the remote diagnostics possibilities with communication to and from the car. As I see it, the possibilities are almost endless and we’re just starting to scratch the surface.

Everyone is asking me when we are going to start fitting IQon to our cars. Well, we’re doing it already with beta versions in some of our company test cars, and I can confirm that customers will get to experience the system in the next generation of Saabs. In a couple of months’ time, we’re going to put up an IQon Developer Zone on the web, which will give app developers the opportunity to get started. These are exciting times at Saab: a new company, new cars and new technologies like IQon. Watch this space for more news as we push the program forward.

It's probably too much to ask for a development unit... but it does bring up an interesting question: How do you design apps for a car if you don't have access to the data that the car would provide? This is an interesting challenge, and I look forward to the solutions.