Over a million developers have joined DZone.

IoT Automotive Apps and How to Develop Them

DZone's Guide to

IoT Automotive Apps and How to Develop Them

Let's examine five automotive apps to see how they utilize the Internet of Things and cover some IoT development guidelines to get you started on yours.

· IoT Zone ·
Free Resource

According to the research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Americans spend an average of 293 hours annually driving their cars. Over 86% of US households currently own at least one car per driver (28% report having more cars than drivers). That makes the automotive industry a lucrative market for an apptrepreneur to enter.

What are some of the most popular automotive apps currently on the market? What are some specifics of custom car apps development?

First off, let’s define the business benefits of building connected car apps.


The Rise of the Connected Car: A Business Case for Automotive Technologies and Notable Examples

Despite the fact that the automotive IoT market is only emerging, it is estimated to be worth $82.79 billion by 2022.

And there is a good reason why more and more businesses are starting to invest in related projects. The demand for connected car technologies is growing. Automotive IoT solutions offer a simple and affordable way to upgrade any car. Some of the benefits that such apps provide to users include the following:

  • real-time vehicle monitoring and breakdown prevention,
  • as a result, increased vehicle safety and efficiency, and
  • the ability to augment the vehicle’s in-built capabilities with third-party tools.

woman-holding-a-smartphone-with-car maintenance-app-on-the-screen

At the same time, businesses also have many reasons to invest in automotive IoT:

  • Monetization and demand: While most apps on the AppStore are free or come at a cost of 99 cents, automotive apps are usually priced higher. This gives businesses an opportunity to easily monetize their products.
  • Third-party integrations and partnerships is another revenue channel for automotive app developers. By selling access to your API to other businesses, you can achieve greater ROI. You can even develop partnerships directly with car manufacturers so your devices will come pre-installed in all vehicles.
  • Collecting and using data: As with any IoT device, automotive products allow you to tap huge amounts of user and vehicle data. With it you can source valuable insights and tailor your product accordingly. The data can also be provided to third-party businesses operating in related domains: insurers, repair shops, roadside assistance providers, etc.
  • The first-mover advantage is one more reason to enter this market right now. Both existing automotive businesses and users are eager to see more innovations in this sphere, so the barrier to entry is fairly low at the moment.

There are many ways automotive apps can level up your vehicle. The existing examples available in the app store tend to focus on such features as GPS and navigation, safety, vehicle maintenance, fuel consumption and mileage logging, voice and gesture control, and multimedia access.


Some of the best car apps currently available (according to users’ opinions) are listed below.


  • Links: Web, App Store, Google Play
  • Product type: IoT, automotive maintenance app.
  • Hardware: Custom car adapters (Automatic Lite and Pro)
  • Target platforms: iOS, Android, and web.


Key features: Trip logging, vehicle diagnostics, fill-up logging, Bluetooth/3G syncing, crash alert, parking and live vehicle tracking, and third-party apps (Lite plan has limited features)


Third-party integrations: Large portfolio of apps and services to augment the core app features.
The company provides an API for businesses and developers to build custom car apps that integrate with Automatic.

App monetization model: The automotive cloud platform is available for maintenance and repair service providers, and insurers (usage-based insurance, pay-per-mile insurance, safe driving incentives, and teen safety programs).


  • Links: Web, App Store, Google Play
  • Product type: IoT, automotive maintenance app
  • Hardware: Preferred device as well as a number of supported third-party Bluetooth-enabled OBD devices
  • Target platforms: iOS and Android.


Key features: Detailed trip logs, real-time car monitoring and diagnostics, ability to locate the cheapest gas stations and repair shops nearby, social features (social media sharing, rewards, leaderboard), estimates and scheduling for car repair, and driving suggestions.


Third-party integrations: Integrates with other apps using IFTTT recipes.

App monetization model: Its proprietary API, Chassis, can be accessed by third-party businesses to build insurance, fleet management and after-market solutions.


  • Links: Web, App Store, Google Play
  • Product type: IoT, automotive maintenance app
  • Hardware: Custom device (comes in 2 variants: with cellular service only, and with cellular + in-car Wi-Fi hotspot)
  • Target platforms: iOS, Android, and web.



Key features: Real-time driving insights, tips, and alerts, maintenance alerts, engine diagnostics, roadside assistance, repair estimates & shop listings, real-time vehicle location, trip tracking, motion monitor (security), discounts and gas station map. Optional: in-car Wi-Fi hotspot.


Third-party integrations: Connects to a number of third-party apps and services.

App monetization model: There are three plans available for a user: Personal, Business and Enterprise. The Personal plan also has a family option. The Business plan includes a complete fleet management solution (the ability to track the vehicle’s location, its condition, and monitor the driver’s performance, as well as API access to integrate the platform with the internal systems). The Enterprise plan is tailored for insurers and auto dealers, and it provides data-based analytics and insights on request.


  • Links: Web, App Store, Google Play
  • Product type: IoT, driving apps, driver-assist technology, and augmented reality.
  • Hardware: Custom device (Navdy portable head-up display and Navdy Dial remote control button)
  • Target platforms: iOS and Android.

Key features: Gesture/voice control; basic phone features including calls, messages, music, notifications, and calendar; navigation and Google Maps search; car maintenance information including speed, RPM, and fuel level.


Third-party integrations: None. The app accesses basic features of your phone like Maps, Calls, Messages, Notifications, Music, etc. (via Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify).

App monetization model: No paid membership: Apps are free to use as soon as you buy the required hardware.

Tips on Developing Custom Car Apps: First-Hand Experience

We at Eastern Peak have successful hands-on experience building IoT car maintenance apps.

One of such solutions, Cobra Code, was developed for the Israeli market. The product includes hardware device connected directly to the vehicle and accompanying software.


The automotive app provides the capabilities to control the basic operations of a car using a mobile device, such as the ability to open/lock the doors, disarm the keypad, and activate the emergency lights. In addition to that, the product also gives the user access to completed trip reports, vehicle location, and notifications. The iOS app features verification by Touch ID or passcode.


Working on the described solution from scratch, we at Eastern Peak can provide advice on some of the best practices for building automotive apps. Namely, there are several aspects to consider.

1. Clearly Set Goals and Explain Them to Your Developers

When building custom car apps, the product specification stage is very important.

First of all, you need to define which ideas fully meet your business requirements, which features will add a unique value or bring the highest ROI for your specific business in the long-term outlook.

Read also: How to Create a Mobile App Specification

Discussing your view of the future product with developers directly helps you actually brainstorm development and business strategy challenges. Additionally, it will aid you in identifying possible technological limitations, and finalizing your requirements.

Your project managers should be able to help you navigate the possible pitfalls, provide expert advice on how to better implement your vision, and find the most optimal solution for you.

Getting your app development team engaged in the project during the early stages helps you create a better product.

2. Consider the Specifics of Your Car App Design

Car app design has some specifics. Namely, driving apps require

  • a clear and plain UI,
  • voice/gesture commands (to keep your eyes on the road), and
  • minimum distractions for the user.

Thus, hiring a designer who has relevant experience is a must.

Read also: Mobile app design: from blueprint to masterpiece

3. Choose the Right Technology Stack

Car app implementation has some specifics. Depending on the type of product you want to build, you should be able to do the following:

  • integrate your app with the onboard car computers using specific hardware devices, and
  • configure the communication between the Android/iOS app and the car application through different connection protocols (for apps designed to control the car from smartphones).
Read also: Developing apps for Android Auto

Thus, the choice of your technology stack depends primarily on the target audience and the specifics of your product itself, be it an app for Android Auto/Apple, CarPlay/standalone, or a cross-platform app.

To make the right decision about the appropriate technology stack and product type, target audience research is required. Your development team will advise you on the pros and cons of each approach, depending on the functionality you want to implement.

In addition to the great number of programming languages you can use, there are also third-party APIs you can integrate with or complete IoT platforms that can serve as a basis for your app.

However, the latter might cause serious scalability problems down the road, requiring much more ongoing expenses than a custom solution built specifically for your business would.

Take into account that building a scalable product requires more development time. However, it’s mandatory if you consider the future growth of your startup.


The automotive market right now is in a state similar to where smartphones were back in 2010. The industry is just shaping up and we are still yet to see it take off. That is why right now might be the best chance for a business to enter this emerging market and capitalize on the opportunities it provides.

Namely, PWC research finds that there is a huge opportunity for the new entrants to capture a part of the $120 billion worth market share, as “many of today’s manufacturers and suppliers lack the skill, agility, and boldness to turn their companies digital quickly enough to take advantage of this change.”

automotive ,iot ,iot app development ,mobile app development

Published at DZone with permission of

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}