Tonight OnStar's pulled back the curtain just a tad, revealing it'll soon allow pre-approved third parties to build "apps" atop its platform. While the closed API won't launch until later, at CES the telematics service announced its first partner: RelayRides -- a peer-to-peer car sharing service that enables OnStar owners to rent their cars to strangers for as low as $5. Access to the API allows those renting using RelayRides' app to remotely unlock reserved cars, all from their smartphone. It'll be one of many to go live in 2012, so devs with a knack for the next big thing ought to peep the PR after the break.

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Calling All Developers: OnStar Looking for Next Big App
RelayRides peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace first 2012 business partner


LAS VEGAS – OnStar will give selected developers access to a proprietary application program interface (API) to create innovative mobile applications designed to interact with OnStar's suite of services.

OnStar services are enabled by its Advanced Telematics Operating System. ATOMS is the most-powerful automotive cloud platform in the market today – connecting to more than 6 million OnStar customers. Apps created using the API will deliver services and functionality in the same manner. Giving safe access to the ATOMS Cloud Platform is part of a broad 2012 growth initiative OnStar announced Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

"Research shows that the amount of mobile applications for the Android and iOS platforms is likely to double in the next 12 months," said OnStar President Linda Marshall. "Customer demand is driving a new marketplace for a variety of automotive applications.

"With this step we believe we can broaden our portfolio, grow our business and enable our customers to achieve additional functionality from their vehicle using their computer, smartphone, tablet or other devices," Marshall said.

Internal research of OnStar's customer base revealed that emergency and security services are most important to customers followed by navigation, vehicle information and diagnostics. OnStar will continue to develop and expand services in these areas, but the proprietary application interface could lead to a further-customized experience for many customers.

"We want to give people 1,001 reasons to keep their OnStar subscription active," said Eric Litt, chief information officer, OnStar. "We feel that opening up our proprietary API to developers will ensure that OnStar continues to keep customers connected in ways they never thought possible."

The first partner to use OnStar's API will be RelayRides, the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace that holds an exclusive partnership with GM. With RelayRides, millions of GM vehicle owners will soon be able to leverage OnStar to rent out their idle cars with the owner controlling the rates and availability of the car. By using the OnStar API, RelayRides will allow its renters to use remote features with their smartphones, such as unlocking GM vehicles to access the reserved car.

"Through our work with OnStar, we are jointly defining the cutting edge of smart mobility," said RelayRides founder and Chief Community Officer Shelby Clark. "With access to the OnStar API, carsharing has never been safer or more convenient. We are looking forward to rolling out the program in early 2012."

In the past, OnStar has worked on API-based solutions with companies like Mapquest and Google to provide the company's eNav service. An API solution was also used in the company's beta test of Facebook Audio Updates.

OnStar will make its closed API available in the first half of 2012. Developers interested in the API should contact OnStar at developers@onstar.com.

OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. With more than 6 million subscribers in the U.S, Canada and China, OnStar is currently available on more than 45 MY 2012 GM models, as well as available for installation on most other vehicles already on the road with OnStar FMV. More information about OnStar can be found at www.onstar.com.

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OnStar announces 'closed' API, developers welcome to apply