To streamline and speed up the process of bringing new customer experiences to the vehicle, Harman launched its developer portal Ignite Store, a developer hub dedicated to the Android Automotive community. We spoke with Albert Jordan, vice president of the Harman Ignite Store business unit to find out more.
We spoke with Harman when he launched Harman Ignite in 2018. What is the Harman Ignite Store Developer Portal? How does this fuel Ignite’s wider offering?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to discuss our latest developments. As a global package, Harman Ignite Store gives OEMs the ability to create unique brand experiences throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle, delivered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. As you rightly say, we launched Harman Ignite Store in 2018 to support the introduction and deployment of in-vehicle cloud services and applications. Compliant with the Android Automotive operating system, Harman Ignite Store is a leading platform for connected vehicles that enables OEMs to bring third-party apps and services to the consumer, as well as their own on-demand apps, services and features. .
Now, the Harman Ignite Store Developer Portal streamlines the application development and certification process. The Harman Ignite Store Developer Portal provides Android developers with rich documentation, code snippets, best practices from other developers, and access to our product managers, user interface experts, and designers. Once the app is ready, developers can submit it through the portal to the Harman Ignite Store, where it will be tested and certified by Harman to ensure the app meets automotive grade requirements for safety, performance, driver distraction, etc. Developers can also select which brand and models, regions and platforms they can choose to target. Once an application is approved, OEMs have full control over the distribution and availability of applications in their vehicles, depending on variables such as trim level, geographic location, model type. Harman Ignite Store helps connect consumers to their favorite brands, responds to the demands of today’s consumers and helps transform the vehicle into a “third living space”.
Why does Harman consider this type of solution a priority?
We are in a period of great change for the automotive industry. Vehicles are “the next frontier” for entertainment and a seamless lifestyle as consumers now expect experiences comparable to their mobile devices. The value of the car shifts from traditional hardware to the experiences it offers – at Harman, we call this a value shift from “RPM to EPM”, or “Experiences Per Mile”.
By now, consumers may be more familiar with smartphone integrations and mirroring, but it has performance and integration limitations. The cloud and access to third-party applications and services offer a significant opportunity to advance advanced experiences. For example, real-time navigation updates on traffic and parking availability, personal assistants and productivity features. This platform allows developers and OEMs to work more closely together, providing a streamlined approach to bringing enhanced experiences into the vehicle.
There are other automotive application platforms, why should developers choose this one? What are the benefits?
There are currently no commercially deployed standard Android app stores except the Google Automotive Services (GAS) Play Store. Some OEMs have sought to create their own app stores, but none have been successful. As Android adoption gains momentum, OEMs are looking for industry solutions to provide an alternate route for bringing third-party apps into the car. This is the void that this solution seeks to fill.
Integrating new applications and services into vehicles has always been a challenge. In the past, it took years of negotiations, design reviews, integration testing, and drive testing to get even a single application in a vehicle. The Harman Ignite Store Developer Portal dramatically shortens and streamlines the entire process so applications can enter the automotive ecosystem and consumers more quickly.
For developers, the benefits are clear. You build for this store through a self-service platform, which provides the ability to collaborate, test, and document applications within the portal. Harman will help assert the applications developed through the portal to ensure that they are effective and suitable for the automotive environment. These will then be deployed for multiple OEM systems. Applications can be developed and then only require certification once, instead of multiple certifications for individual manufacturers or systems.
Potential developers have access to many of the world’s best automotive OEMs through the platform, but it is also possible for them to be more targeted with their product and focus on a specific region, brand and / or vehicle. Developers have access to a variety of resources, including toolkits, technical documentation, best practices, code samples, training, and other development aids, and can monitor application performance, by receiving information that will help them with future improvements.
Can you explain what are the advantages for OEMs? How will this affect the end consumer?
The Developer Portal will enable OEMs to generate new branded and integrated experiences across their products, creating the rich, embedded experiences their customers demand. Direct engagement with developers will result in ever new content for OEMs while retaining complete discretion over the implementation of applications through the Harman Ignite store and in a brand’s vehicles. OEMs can also benefit from new digital revenue streams, while minimizing the traditional costs associated with finding new technology solutions. The solution is designed to be flexible, so manufacturers can bring their favorite navigation system from TomTom to MapBox and HERE.
For consumers, this flexibility means that installing third-party apps that already improve their daily lives will now be easily accessible in their vehicles and allow for consistently fresh and personalized content via Over-the-Air (OTA). updates. Harman Ignite Store will help accelerate new in-vehicle experiences, such as the cloud ecosystem reminding drivers of upcoming appointments, placing coffee orders in the run-up to a favorite café, and helping productivity with desktop related applications.
There are real concerns within industry and consumers about the impact of cloud services on data privacy and cybersecurity. What did Harman do to fix it?
As a company, we implement cybersecurity throughout the product development cycle. OEMs and app owners will set their policies on data collection, use, and privacy. Ignite does not collect any PII (Personally Identifiable Information), and we agree with our OEM customers to ensure that the end user retains ownership of their data.
And what is the process to ensure that applications meet automotive grade safety requirements?
Harman’s certification process ensures a high level of quality and that all applications and services are suitable for use in an automotive context. We advocate a modeled approach to solving distracted driving issues. Specifically, OEMs can customize the templates to match their guidelines, which is beneficial to the third-party developer as they don’t have to modify their applications to meet the requirements of each OEM’s guidelines.
How fast can an application be developed? When could we expect to see apps created through this solution in production models?
The portal dramatically shortens the development time for applications. It can sometimes take up to a year to develop an application for Android Automotive. With the Harman Ignite Store Developer Portal, this can be possible in a matter of months or even weeks. We already offer a variety of apps through the Harman Ignite Store, such as Spotify, Yelp, LiveXLive, Radioplayer and Parkopedia, and welcome more and more new partners – AudioBurst was announced in April.
We are in talks with several OEMs about Harman Ignite Store, and in the development phase with the major global OEMs that will benefit. We expect public announcements to be made soon. Our ambitions for Harman Ignite Store are high – there is a lot to offer OEMs with the solution.