Kuo: Apple Car back on track, coming within 5-7 years

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the iPhone maker is positioning itself to introduce an automobile in three to five years.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the iPhone maker is positioning itself to introduce an automobile in three to five years. If true, this would represent an about-face for the company. In recent years, most have assumed Apple was no longer planning on building a so-called “iCar,” but instead was focused on improving its CarPlay technology. The reputable analyst’s comments were first published by MacRumors.... Read the rest of this post here


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China’s Didi beefs up its newly-independent car services business with an acquisition

A week after spinning out its driver services business and giving it $1 billion in investment capital, Didi Chuxing has added to it through an acquisition. Xiaoju Automobile Solutions (XAS), which the Didi spinout is called, announced today it has bought Hiservice, a three-year-old company that provides after-service care for car owners using a digital platform. […]

A week after spinning out its driver services business and giving it $1 billion in investment capital, Didi Chuxing has added to it through an acquisition.

Xiaoju Automobile Solutions (XAS), which the Didi spinout is called, announced today it has bought Hiservice, a three-year-old company that provides after-service care for car owners using a digital platform.

The deal was undisclosed, but XAS said that Hiservice will be combined with its maintenance and repair division to form a new unit that’s focused on car-owner services such as maintenance, parts and components. That’ll be called Xiaoju Auto Care (小桔养车) for those of you who are keeping up with the names of these Didi subsidiaries.

That auto care business will be jointly run by Yinbo Yi, who had run Didi’s auto care business, and Hiservice founder Cheng Qian, Didi confirmed. The new business claims 28 physical maintenance centers across seven cities in Asia.

Didi’s move to create XAS, which removes an asset-heavy business from the core Didi books, is seen by many as a sign that the company plans to go public soon. Unsurprisingly, Didi isn’t commenting on that at this point. The company was last valued at $56 billion when it raised a $4 billion round late last year — it has since added a $500 million strategic investment from travel company Booking Holdings.

While it is organizing its China-based business, Didi has also spent this year expanding into new markets. It has launched in Mexico, Australia and Taiwan while it acquired Uber rival 99 in Brazil. It is also edging close to launching a taxi-booking service in Japan via a joint venture with SoftBank.

Amazon launches an Alexa Auto SDK to bring its voice assistant to more cars

Amazon this morning announced the launch of a toolkit for developers that will allow them to integrate Alexa into cars’ infotainment systems. The “Alexa Auto SDK” is available now on GitHub, and includes all the core Alexa functions like streaming media, smart home controls, weather reports, and support for Alexa’s tens of thousands of third-party […]

Amazon this morning announced the launch of a toolkit for developers that will allow them to integrate Alexa into cars’ infotainment systems. The “Alexa Auto SDK” is available now on GitHub, and includes all the core Alexa functions like streaming media, smart home controls, weather reports, and support for Alexa’s tens of thousands of third-party skills. It will also add new features just for auto users, like navigation and search, Amazon says.

The source code and function libraries will be in C++ and Java, allowing the vehicles to process audio inputs and triggers, then connect with the Alexa service, and handle the Alexa interactions.

In addition, Amazon is offering a variety of sample apps, build scripts, and documentation supporting Android and QNX operating systems on ARM and x86 processor architectures.

The SDK will allow for streaming media from Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Audible, for the time being, and will allow customers to place calls by saying the contact’s name or phone number. These will be launched over the native calling service in the vehicle.

Plus, it can tap into a native turn-by-turn navigation system, when customers specify an address or point of interest, or if they cancel the navigation.

A local search feature lets customers search for restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, hotels, and other business, and navigate to the location.

This is not the first time Alexa has come to cars, by any means. Amazon has been working with car makers like Ford, BMW, SEAT, Lexus and Toyota, who have been integrating the voice assistant into select vehicles. Alexa is also available in older cars through a variety of add-on devices, like those from AnkerMuse (Speak Music)Garmin, and Logitech, for example.

With this SDK, Amazon is opening the voice assistant to other developers building for auto, who don’t yet have a relationship with Amazon.