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World’s First CarPlay & Android Auto Apps For a Major Car Manufacturer

Turning the Wheel on IoT in the Automotive Industry

The experience of owning and driving a car is changing. Car purchases were previously completely dictated by physical specifications, such as horsepower, the number of passenger seats, or body style. However, in 2021, a car is no longer just a machine. It’s now an interface. 

IoT now influences consumer decisions in the automotive industry. As drivers trend towards car-sharing and families manage their lives on personal mobile devices, consumers demand the same digital experiences for their vehicles. Software to manage safety, navigation, maintenance, sustainability, and even driving itself is increasingly expected in the automotive industry.

The release of the Apple CarPlay and Android automotive platforms in 2014 was a call for innovation from OEMs. Less than two years later, Opentrends was the first to answer that call.

As a leader in integration, Opentrends created the world’s first original app that integrates with Carplay, multiple software, and the physical vehicle. The result? A new, intuitive automotive experience at the driver’s fingertips.

car maker mobile app interface mock up

A Strategic, Integrative Solution For a Major World Car Manufacturer

A major world car manufacturer foresaw how IoT was driving innovation in the automotive industry, and wanted to take full advantage of the new Apple and Android platforms. They approached Opentrends to develop one proprietary mobile app that integrates with CarPlay and another one with Android Auto. 

To achieve seamless assimilation and long-term adoption, Opentrends strategic team integrated the app into the company’s overall technology roadmap and customer experience objectives. Opentrends utilized scrum methodologies to feed into the client’s waterfall development strategy. The team worked closely with the Project Management Office in the implementation phase to push adoption and awareness with both internal and external stakeholders.

Opentrends then approached the project from two comprehensive and co-existing perspectives:

  • The app must fully understand the “in the car” inputs, such as the vehicle’s physical and software framework and requirements. The data generated by a modern vehicle’s sensors provides new opportunities to inform the driver’s actions and decisions. The app had to integrate with these data sources to maximize the utilization of the information.
  • Next, Opentrends harnessed this information to create the “into the car” experience: an app that was useful and enhanced vehicle ownership. As safety is at the forefront, the team had to get creative to make the app attractive and relevant without distracting the driver. A driver only has milliseconds to safely digest communications. The app had to provide the most critical information, at the exact right time, in a format the driver instantaneously understood.

"Safety is a major consideration, which makes designing for the car unique to other user interfaces. It means understanding and designing for a specific situation. Thus, it demands fresh thinking and design, from both a UX and UI perspective." - Xavi Buscalla, Opentrends Inc CEO

Integrating Technologies to Pioneer a New Kind of App

The Opentrends team used a wide array of technologies and tools to create an app that seamlessly integrated with CarPlay and the physical vehicle. The backend architecture for this project was particularly demanding. It required high availability, reuse, and extension of MirrorLink apps. The biggest challenge was linking the vehicle’s diagnosis port (CAN Bus) via a DataPlug.

  • The app was programmed in Swift to ensure native compatibility with the Apple ecosystem and was developed using a series of target segment usability sprints supported by UX, development and Agile delivery.
  • Backend technology was created by Angular JS, JavaDocker deployed on AWS Cloud platform and
  • Architected on Apache and Tomcat servers with Oracle and MongoDB databases in SET replica
  • Leveraged OpenCMS to display static content
wrist with smart watch on showing parking alter
hand holding a mobile phone in front of a US highway
hand holding mobile phone with carplay app on screen

An App That Transforms Car Ownership

The Opentrends team pushed through these obstacles to pioneer this first-of-its-kind app. The resulting app provided functionalities for the driver that transformed the driving and car ownership experience:

  • MyCar vehicle gauges and consumption stats 
  • Car Status provides real-time alerts to ensure safe operation and proactive maintenance
  • The interactive manual makes it easier to find and visualize the information the driver needs
  • The user can use the app to run basic diagnostics and directly schedule dealer services