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GM now has its own API for software developers to make cool apps for its cars

GM now has its own API for software developers to make cool apps for its cars


uServices is the automaker’s new set of APIs for developers — and another step toward GM’s ultimate goal of the Software Defined Vehicle.

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

General Motors is ramping up its efforts to create a better technology experience for software developers to make cool apps for its vehicles — and, notably, the vehicles of its competitors.

GM announced a new vehicle services definition called “uServices” for the automotive software developer community. In essence, uServices is meant to serve as GM’s own API for other software developers to build apps that can work across multiple lineups of vehicles. The automaker is also submitting the new definition to the Connected Vehicle Systems Alliance (COVESA), a global alliance focused on the development of open standards and technologies for connected vehicles.

This new definition aims for standardized software “to securely access vehicle systems from anywhere in an OEM vehicle ecosystem,” the automaker says. Along with the open-source software protocol, uProtocol, that GM introduced earlier this year, the company says it’s putting the pieces in place required for the creation of Software Defined Vehicles (SDVs).

Here’s how GM says uServices will work:

While uProtocol serves as the backbone for more efficient vehicle software development across the industry, uServices is meant to set standards for interfacing with vehicle features and communicating through that backbone, serving as a standard API to abstract vehicle services, enabling a unified connected vehicle ecosystem.  

The overall effort is intended to speed the development of SDVs. The auto industry has been on a hiring spree over the past several years, scooping up thousands of software developers in the hopes of bringing more technical sophistication to their fleets. The recent Silicon Valley layoffs have afforded those companies even more of an opportunity to build up their ranks of coders, engineers, and tech-savvy workers.

The result has been the release of more cars with continuously updating software features. Tesla was the first company to bring over-the-air software updates to the mainstream. Now, the rest of the industry is scrambling to catch up by introducing their own upgradable vehicles.

GM’s contribution to this effort is Ultifi, a software platform that will start to appear in vehicles later this year. The company says that the end-to-end software platform will enable OTA updates, in-car subscription services, and “new opportunities to increase customer loyalty.”