It's been a year since GM and OnStar opened up their app development platform to the masses -- and two years since the company's first LTE-enabled car, powered by Verizon. At the 2014 International CES, GM and OnStar are showing some fruit from that app platform and a new partner providing that sweet LTE bandwidth: AT&T.
Connected by OnStar is an HTML5-based platform and suite of components for developers to use in crafting their apps. In a move that's unlike the platforms offered by Toyota, Ford, or BMW, all app connectivity here relies on an in-car modem. All data for these apps comes directly through the car. The good news is that you won't have to pair any phone to use these apps. The bad news is you'll likely be on the hook for an additional data plan from AT&T -- though nobody at either at the carrier or GM were willing to confirm details regarding pricing or the like.
The apps themselves look much the same as on other platforms, and indeed the list of faces is quite familiar. GM listed 10 apps as "expected" to be at launch, including iHeartRadio, Slacker, NPR, and TuneIn. A Weather Channel app does what you'd expect, while Cityseeker and Eventseeker will help you find something to do. Finally, a Vehicle Health app can decode engine error codes and let you make an appointment with your local dealership without having to pick up the phone.
Connected by OnStar comes this summer first to the Corvette, Impala, Malibu, Volt, and Trax. Later in the year, the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, and Spark will get the same treatment. Again, no details on whether this will require optional hardware on the car nor how much that will cost if it does, but it was at least confirmed that any car that is configured for Connected by OnStar will be able to share its connection as an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot. The rest we'll have to wait and see.