General Motors gives app developers industry-first real-world in-vehicle testing facility


General Motors (GM) has launched Dev Client, an industry-first app that gives approved developers that have created in-vehicle applications the ability to test them in a real GM vehicle.

In-vehicle app testing is the next step for software developers that have already created a proof of concept using GM’s next-generation infotainment software development kit (NGI SDK). After building an application’s proof of concept with the NGI SDK, the next development step is to conduct real-world testing using a GM vehicle’s infotainment system. The GM Dev Client allows partners and developers the ability to test their apps in one of the company’s vehicles once they have obtained approval from the auto maker.

In January, the auto maker released the NGI SDK, which mimics real vehicle data and enables developers outside of GM to build apps without making frequent trips to Detroit to conduct testing on infotainment modules. With the Dev Client system, those apps now can be tested on a real GM vehicle anywhere in the USA. By the end of 2017, the NGI SDK will offer a templated framework for developers, such as a media player layout or a point of interest layout.

After providing the company with a compatible vehicle’s identification number (VIN), the app will go through GM’s internal review process for suitability, and when approved, the Dev Client will appear in the vehicle’s AppShop for download. Once Dev Client is installed, the approved app will appear on the in-vehicle infotainment screen for real-world testing. It can be tested from a laptop within the car, as driver lock-out safety features are prebuilt into Dev Client so that only a passenger can test the app while the vehicle is in motion. On-the-fly code changes can be conducted and updates are reflected instantly.

“By introducing Dev Client, we’re giving developers the missing link they need to finalize their applications,” explained John McFarland, GM’s director of global digital experience. “GM Dev Client will help us and external developers make sure the best in-vehicle apps are ultimately made available in our vehicles, ensuring the best customer experience for drivers.”

Kent Helfrich, executive director of GM’s connected ecosystem integration, added, “Sharing more emulated data points through the SDK than any other auto maker was the first step in opening the door for developers. After such strong adoption of the SDK, we wanted to enable developers to take the next step and allow real-world testing in our vehicles.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).