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How to get smartphone apps into cars

John Day

John Day

Posted Jan 17, 2013

Automakers are looking for ways to integrate smartphone apps safely and securely into vehicle head units. Ford’s strategy for doing so is to offer its own application programming interface (API), AppLink, and it seems to be working for them. App developers interested in partnering with Ford can (re)write their apps to work with AppLink, and if Ford wants the apps we have a match.

But if every automaker adopted the same strategy it would place a burden on app developers; having to write and support app versions for every automaker. Perceiving that potential dilemma, Livio developed Livio Connect, a potentially universal API, or at least a popular one. Developers can write their apps to work with Livio Connect, and those apps will work wherever Livio Connect is supported.

KPIT Cummins is among those who see benefits in the Livio Connect strategy and the two firms recently announced a strategic partnership to enable seamless connectivity between multiple consumer devices, mobile apps and infotainment head units. Consumers will be able to bring Livio-enabled apps to the head unit, eliminating the need for one-on-one integration between individual apps and head units.

The Livio Connect API will be integrated into KPIT Cummins’ GENIVI-compliant KIVI (KPIT In-Vehicle Infotainment) software framework. The firms said the combination of KIVI and Livio will allow safe access to Livio-enabled apps through the vehicle’s voice and touch controls.

“KIVI is designed to ‘future-proof’ IVI systems by bringing in new features and cutting-edge technologies, like Livio, even to existing IVI systems rapidly,” said Anup Sable, KPIT Cummins senior VP and head of the firm’s Automotive Business unit. “We are excited to bring the benefits of Livio’s innovative technology to our customers in a pre-integrated, production-ready software framework for easy adoption in IVI systems.”

KPIT Cummins also launched its own app deployment framework for in-vehicle infotainment and smartphones. It’s called Apps-to-Go,” and it comes pre-integrated with KIVI. Apps-to-Go enables secure interaction of apps between mobile devices and head units using the bundled vehicle services API. Vehicle functions, media content and information from the Internet can be controlled safely and securely via mobile devices and head units.

Apps-to-Go can be integrated into any Linux IVI platform. It also works with popular mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS. Sable suggests that Apps-to-Go will help car makers attract more app developers to build apps using HTML5, as apps built using this technology work seamlessly on multiple mobile devices and infotainment systems.

It’s good to have choices.

Livio Connect, Ford, GENIVI-compliant, AppLink, KPIT Cummins, Livio, HTML5

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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