VW Group launches app stores for its vehicles

VW Group launches app stores for its vehicles

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

A widespread saying in the industry is that the car is increasingly becoming a “smartphone on wheels”. Until now, most brands have lacked an important element for this: an app store where vehicle users can download the app of their choice. Volkswagen’s IT company Cariad has now presented such an app store. Audi will be the first Group brand to be equipped with it.

VW’s app store is designed as an open ecosystem. In addition to exclusive apps from Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and other Group brands, the store will offer in-car customers access to content from third-party providers. Cariad is working with Samsung company Harman to create this open system. The app store opens up access for developers to a market estimated at around 40 million VW Group vehicles.

Car company keeps control over the apps

The two cooperation partners have already been able to win several partners for its Application Store. Whether music & video, gaming, navigation, parking & charging, weather apps or remote work – the store aims to offer essential and popular functions that make the car a smart companion for the driver and passengers. In addition, the Volkswagen Group brands will integrate their own apps, such as online traffic light information or navigation services. In future, they will also be able to offer their customers additional services via the Store. In this way, the car will become better and better through regular updates, whether through third-party apps or its own offerings.

Cariad sees the launch of its group-wide application store as an important milestone: “Our new store for digital apps is the result of the cooperation between Audi, Cariad and Harman,” says Cariad CEO Dirk Hilgenberg. “We will take the in-car experience to the next level by seamlessly integrating the digital world of Volkswagen Group customers into the car. Our application store already gives a first glimpse of our all-new infotainment stack: the store will be part of the ‘One.Infotainment’ system in Porsche and Audi’s next-generation premium software.”

Technology from Harman

Audi will initially integrate the Application Store into selected models from summer 2023. Audi is eyeing the A4, A5, Q5, A6, A7, A8, Q8 e-tron and e-tron GT. This equipment option will initially be available in Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico and certain overseas markets; it will later be extended to other models and regions as well as to other brands of the Volkswagen Group.

For the Application Store, Cariad has partnered with Harman, an automotive electronics company that specialises in developing digital user experiences for the automotive standard. The Cariad Application Store is based on the Harman Ignite Store, a solution for in-vehicle infotainment systems. It enables Volkswagen Group brands to retain control over third-party content, the user experience and the relationship with the end user.

The Application Store offers a range of third-party apps that have been developed specifically for the automotive industry and adapted to existing mobile apps to meet automotive industry requirements and standards. Thanks to a scalable platform approach, developers are enabled to reach multiple brands and a large number of Volkswagen Group vehicles via the Application Store without additional customisation. The Store ensures that the applications in the vehicle meet the high safety requirements of the automotive industry. Third-party developers can also seamlessly update and expand their apps at any time.

Navigation from TomTom

The list of apps for the Cariad Application Store is continuously being expanded. The first partners of the store include, for example, the streaming services Spotify, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Tidal and Tubi, The Weather Channal, the gaming hub FRVR, the POI service Yelp, Stingray Karaoke, the social media service TikTok, Parkwhiz, the charging app Plugshare, the smart home platform Home Assistant, the open web browser Vivaldi and the collaboration app Webex from Cisco. Mercedes recently added the latter to its offering. By the way, unlike Mercedes, Google Maps is not part of the VW Group’s offer; Cariad relies on the Dutch provider TomTom for navigation.

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