Open Up those APIs

If I were to pick out one of the themes that really stood out to me at this year’s CES, I would have to point to all the API talk. Everyone from automakers to television manufacturers were promoting heavily the idea of opening up the application programming interface to their products in order to create more exciting products going forward.

It started with OnStar announcing the fact it is giving selected developers access to a proprietary API, with the intent to create mobile apps to interact with the OnStar suite of services. Apps created will use the same cloud platform that enables and delivers standard OnStar services. The company cites emergency and security services as being among the most important services to its customers, but envisions a range of different types of services that can be introduced by developers.

The peer-to-peer Relay Rides is the first official partner announced using the open API, but OnStar execs certainly believe sky’s the limit for just what types of apps can be created around the system. This goes for both consumer and business use. This is why I think the Relay Rides announcement was so significant, showing a blend of both consumer and business services—allowing people to rent out their idle cars to peers while controlling usage and rates. Maybe you get some creative developers out there that figure out how to connect the car to things like your fitness routines, your energy footprint, or emergency services. Who knows?

Panasonic was talking open application development too with its line of VIera Connect televisions. While units will still ship with a selection of preloaded apps for that connected television experience, Panasonic knows that not everyone values the ability to simply Skype or surf the Web from their TV. Perhaps you are more of the gaming kind, or want to have your TV at the center of your fitness routine, or want to track your energy efficiency habits. Well now, application developers can be hard at work developing apps that fit your needs and can be delivered straight to your Viera Connect television via another innovative service from Panasonic—the Viera Connect Market.

Of course AT&T made a big splash prior to the show with the announcement of its API Platform. Developers building apps using HTML 5 will have access to some unique features from AT&T with plans for an HTML 5 store later this year too.

I like the emphasis that these companies are placing on the user experience. Whether they realize it or not, all three companies are taking bold steps in the direction of enabling the next generation of the connected world. While the devices themselves are still very much important, it is that user experience that will truly drive the market. Once you open users’ eyes up to what is possible through the access to timely and relevant data, you begin to empower them to push the limits on technology. Users will be the drivers for the next generation of devices, and by creating the customizable experience, companies like AT&T, OnStar, and Panasonic demonstrate the fact they know where the future exists.

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