Tesla CEO: Model S will support third-party apps

Tesla CEO: Model S will support third-party apps

Good news, bad news...

Hope the apps will be well fenced, limited in scope, and undergo heavy testing, Tesla's approval and controlled distribution. Having dealt with buggy third-party code... brrrr... scary... frozen systems, looping apps... "blue screen of death" gets a really scary meaning.

Don't have to install them. :)

Yeah, but others will :-P

Anyway it will be great to have a variety of good apps and customize Model S. I wouldn't mind if it reads me the news, or a book on long trips.

Rumor has it that Tesla's "built-in tablet" is based on RIM's PlayBook. In this case, all I can say is: Enjoy!

Given the investment that Google has in Tesla, I had always assumed that Tesla would choose some Android/ChromeOS-based solution (by the time the Model S becomes available, Android and ChromeOS will most probably have merged, anyway). Does anyone have any insights on which platform they will actually use and why? Where is the source that says that they will use the PlayBook OS? Is it just the Tegra 2 hardware?

As a mobile developer and a petrolhead (for now) I've always been looking for ways to combine both worlds (ranging from things like OpenLR to Windows Embedded Automotive 7 Solutions (formerly Microsoft Auto) and many things in between.

A couple of months ago (around CES) I've done a little bit of research into what platform was available to Tesla for them to use in this space and armed with the knowledge that they'd be using a Tegra 2 chip I've started looking for a platform that would already have such support and I've come to the conclusion that this platform is most probably QNX CAR.

Here's my reasoning to this conclusion:

  • An impressive ecosystem ranging from car manufacturers to software and middleware providers that covers a very wide range of features (Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz among others).
  • Support for nVIDIA's Tegra2 platform with evidence dating back to 2010Q1 in Foundry27 (the community portal for QNX software developers)
  • QNX has been acquired by RIM around the same time and sure enough months later a tablet is announced.
  • LTE Connected Car is almost an "out-of-the box" feature (video) and if you look at some screenshots there's a lot of visual queues that very closely resemble what we've seen on the 17" legendary by now dash mounted touch screen down to the presumably default color scheme of the platform.

So while I'm not expecting to see just a bigger Blackberry Playbook on the dash there's a lot of similarities bewteen the two platforms it would yield to some interesting synergies. In short if there's a company that has resources in both domains RIM is one very viable option today as far as I'm concerned.

Having discussed the matter in the past with Microsoft in the past (back at TechEd 2009) the idea behind platforms such as QNX CAR and Microsoft Auto is not to directly enable 3rd party developers to run their apps directly on the device (the car that is), but rather allow integration between the two (the 3rd pary app and the car) via a well defined API (such as Ford's AppLink). The reason behind this restriction if fairly obvious, but it comes down to who's the owner of the platform and the answer is the car manufacturer. As such I don't see Fiat, Ford, etc providing software support to end users. Legal obligations also come into play with car manufacturers having to comply to regulations that require a minimum or distrations for the driver. Finally with release cycles being very different between the car's platform and apps there's no reason you'd want apps running directly on your car's hardware (can you imagine having to worry about app downloads while on the road?).

Ultimately what it comes down to is that you'd want to consume services locally or in the cloud while driving and editing google docs or playing Angry Birds on the go, while possible is not exactly ideal or permitted for that matter. So it's up to the platform provider (Tesla in our case) to validate what's feasible and/or possible on their platform.

So all this to say that it's only good news as far as I'm concerned, but it could be just me being an optimist...


Be careful what you wish for:

Opening up to "apps" is asking for it.

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