DETROIT -- Continental AG is borrowing a page from Apple's wildly successful iPhone.
The German auto supplier plans to launch an “apps” store where drivers can download new telematics features to their vehicles.
Continental says it is developing an open software architecture that will allow third-party companies to build a variety of applications. The company announced the project, called AutoLinQ, this week during the annual Telematics Detroit conference.
AutoLinQ will be based on Android, which is an open software platform and a set of applications for mobile devices.
Brian Droessler, sales and portfolio director for Continental, said AutoLinQ will connect to the Internet using either a phone built into the vehicle or a mobile phone connected to the vehicle through Bluetooth. The applications would appear on a screen in the vehicle.
Applications could range from online navigation services and Internet radio to a service that would display the location of friends in the driver's social network.
Droessler said the system also would include applications that allow the driver to tap into vehicle data or control certain vehicle functions remotely using a phone.
Continental was one of several companies showing advances in vehicle connectivity at the telematics conference.
UIE Automotive demonstrated its myCar platform by locking and unlocking the doors of a Chevrolet Aveo using a Blackberry and an iPhone.
Stephen Fishburn, general manager of UIE, said a system such as myCar potentially can control a range of electronic functions that are tied to a vehicle's central network, or bus. That means you could use a mobile phone to turn on the heated seats, for example.
The myCar platform also can use a mobile phone to collect diagnostic information from the vehicle and to relay location-based information -- like driving directions, restaurant listings and gasoline prices -- to the vehicle.
UIE also announced a deal this week to offer real-time traffic services from Inrix. Fishburn said UIE would launch its technology on a vehicle in August. He would not identify the automaker.